Why You Should Never Make a Statement to Law Enforcement, Ever
One of the more frustrating aspects of being retained on a new case is learning that your client has already given a statement to the police or FBI. Here’s a simple go-to guide on whether to speak to the police about your involvement in a crime: never, ever, never do it. And here are the reasons why:
1) There is nothing you can say which will clear you. No matter how badly you think you can convince the police that you are innocent, you can only hurt yourself by speaking to them. When the police officer tells you that if you just explain yourself he’ll let you go – that’s not true, he’s bluffing. He’s simply trying to get you to help him convict you. If you’re truly innocent, let your lawyer lay out the reasons why – so that your innocence will be clear and there will be no misunderstanding of your position which will only cause more suspicion. If you are guilty, by letting your attorney speak for you, you won’t be incriminating yourself or providing useful evidence in a case against you. You and your attorney can instead prepare your story and have it laid out in a cogent, consistent manner — assuming your attorney even thinks that is a good idea.
2) You will make it easier for the prosecutor to convict you. I’ve had plenty of criminal cases in which the worst evidence against my client was their statements or confessions to the police. Guess what – you may be guilty of a crime but does that mean you have to go to prison for it? Talk to God or your dog if you want to confess your crime – not to law enforcement. It isn’t easy for a defense attorney to square away three different statements made to the police about your involvement in a crime, especially when each story you provided has inconsistent details. Even if you’re telling the truth you might make an honest mistake on a detail or two – and that will be used against you to suggest that you are lying in order to cover up your guilt. And if you provide a written or taped, oral account of your story before speaking to a lawyer you may end up boxing yourself into a defense – before you’ve been provided any evidence from prosecutors. Why formulate a defense without knowing what the government’s case is against you? Why formulate a defense without consulting a professional first?
3) If you speak to the police, you open up the door to them fabricating parts of your statement. It should not surprise anyone that certain nefarious members of law enforcement are capable of concocting a false confession – and getting you convicted of a crime. If you don’t speak to the police, there is no way they can add in a detail or two to your statement which will bolster their case against you. If you speak to them for even a minute, a dishonest police officer or agent can add some details to your statement which could hurt your defense later on down the road. It’s not like the officer will be taping your statement for accuracy as very few jurisdictions require it. And what if the officer is honest but makes an honest mistake in recording your statement? You could be bound by that mistake too. It happens, a lot.
There is nothing to be gained by speaking to law enforcement if they are investigating you for a crime. They have only one motive in speaking to you: to get you to either confess or to provide usable evidence against you. Consult a professional first and map out your strategy when you have information about the government’s case at your fingertips. Contact a top New York criminal attorney at the Law Offices of Jeffrey Lichtman to discuss your case today.