By Criminal Defense Lawyer Jeremy Rosenthal
Today, I’m continuing my series on the 5 most common police attitudes which I see case in and case out in the many, many cases I handle as a criminal defense lawyer. As noted before, these opinions are due to my amateur police psychology.
#4 — Undecided
Police get complaints all day every day about wrongdoing. They also see things while they are on duty which arouse their suspicion or curiosity.
It goes without saying often times when they approach a particular problem they are undecided about the outcome going into their work. Normally, the longer a police officer is undecided in their investigation the more objective they will be.
Being undecided about an outcome is an extremely healthy attitude for someone making big decisions about another person’s life. It causes the officer to investigate in detail and in doing so — to test alternate hypotheses, to review both favorable and unfavorable evidence in a balanced approach, and to understand the weight of their decision. Obviously at some point an officer is likely to move off the undecided bubble one way or the other with the more information they assess and gather. What is important is when they are undecided — they are better able to view the evidence neutrally.
I often see police who are extremely conscientious and do their very best to make the important decisions they are charged with making. An officer should be undecided entering into every investigation undertaken.
But the equation breaks down a bit from here. Police would have you believe they are undecided when approaching or investigating a case 100% of the time. My experience is it is more like 20% of the time.
In fairness to police — I usually won’t see cases they don’t file unless I’m brought into the case very early. The 20% could easily be much higher because I don’t know how many cases are put right in their trash-cans.
What I can say is by my best guestimation of the cases I do see — probably about 80% of the time the officer has a particular preferred outcome going into their investigation of cases they do ultimately file. This can apply to DWI arrests, sexual assaults, or even white-collar embezzlement schemes.
Police are human too.
*Jeremy Rosenthal is Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and licensed by the Supreme Court of Texas.