By Collin County Criminal Defense Lawyer Jeremy Rosenthal
Probably. But you shouldn’t worry about their feelings.
Jails and prisons are full of people who gave statements to police when they were under investigation.
Exercising your 5th Amendment right to remain silent is perfectly legal and if your case ever came down to a trial, the jury would never be informed of the fact that you declined an interview based on an attorney’s advice.
Won’t the Police Drop the Case if they Think I’m Innocent?
Of course that’s possible and I’m sure that happens. But just as often the officer has already made up his mind and is only building his case against a suspect by bringing them in for an interview.
Police are not judges. They do not get involved in disputes to hand the party they think should win a ribbon or prize when the investigation is over. They investigate crime. They do that by building a case element by element as defined by the Texas Penal Code. Often the only way they can make their case is through a statement of the accused.
By declining an interview, a suspect may be denying the police the very ability to even go forward with an arrest warrant or possible criminal charges. So if the police are upset that a suspect didn’t come in — that is obviously outweighed by the benefits of exercising 5th Amendment rights.
Can’t I Convince them I’m Innocent?
Good luck with that. Most experienced criminal attorneys will tell you police often make-up their mind very early in an investigation. People don’t change their mind once they’re made — and police are no different.
Here’s a common scenario I joke about:
Detective: What happened?
Suspect: We went into the party for a few minutes. We didn’t really know anyone there so we left. It was a bit awkward actually. I’m not sure we even had a drink while we were there.
Police report conclusion — “Suspect admitted entering the house.”
See what you’re dealing with?
Won’t Things Be Better if I Take Responsibility if I did Make a Mistake?
Maybe yes and maybe no. At the very least you should consult a lawyer to hear their thoughts about your case. Your version of taking responsibility may be a heartfelt apology, restitution, and a promise to change your behavior. The State of Texas’ version could be to send you to prison depending on the situation. Having a lawyer in the mix could at least help you have some degree of control in the situation or even broker favorable terms if you made a mistake and feel strongly about cooperating with law enforcement.
In Federal cases, cooperation through your attorney can help substantially lower your exposure to criminal penalties.
*Jeremy Rosenthal is Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and licensed by the Supreme Court of Texas. Nothing in this article is intended to be legal advice. For legal advice about any situation you should contact an attorney directly. Contacting the attorney through this forum does not create an attorney-client relationship. Information given to attorney through this forum is not confidential or subject to the attorney-client privilege.