When should I talk to the Police?

The answer to the question posed in this blog is simple in concept but can be difficult in practice. Everyone has seen the movies and the videos on Youtube that tell you never to talk to the police. It’s good advice, but is often ignored.

The simple answer is: Almost never talk to the police, and if you do, you’d better have a lawyer. In real life situations, the answer is often more complicated. If a cop comes over and makes conversation, should you be rude? Is he really just making conversation, or is he trying to gather information that can and will be used against you in a court of law? A mistrust of police is healthy in my opinion, but can also arouse suspicion in the wrong circumstances.

So what’s the complicated answer? Well, if you know that you are being investigated for a crime, then don’t say a word. At that point, the cops are not on your side. They are looking for reasons you are guilty. If you are not guilty of whatever they are investigating, they may still look for other crimes they can charge you with. Is there a marijuana joint in your pocket? Maybe some stems and seeds left by your friends? Don’t talk to the police. Do not consent to a search. Call a lawyer.

If it is necessary to speak to the police to clear your name, then do so only after speaking with a lawyer, and have your lawyer present. The reason to deal with police rather than prosecutors is to avoid the costs of arrest, which can be substantial. However, the costs of an arrest can pale in comparison to the consequences of a conviction. That is why you should keep the end game in mind, even if it means being arrested for a crime that will later be dismissed. An expunction is costly, but a conviction can follow you the rest of your life.

So why do otherwise intelligent individuals start singing when cops ask questions? It’s a lot of reasons, but I think the most typical reason is because you are just conforming with social norms. Most people don’t want to be rude when someone is asking them a question. If you are ever in that situation, try to think back to this post and remember, you are not in a “normal” social situation. You should not feel obligated to follow social norms even when an officer is pressuring you to do so.

If you are being investigated, or otherwise being pressured to speak with police, call Rob Chesnutt for a free consultation. 512-677-5003.

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