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Old 06-11-2018, 04:44 PM
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Legal: does it *ever* hurt to refuse to talk until you have a lawyer present? (US)

Generally speaking I understand it's best to consult with a defense attorney before having a lengthy conversation with a police officer or prosecutor. Kevin Drum asks whether there are exceptions to this rule:
I have a question for any practicing defense lawyers in the audience: does it ever hurt to refuse to talk to police or prosecutors until you have a lawyer present? Is it ever the case that you lose, say, a chance at immunity if you demand to have your lawyer present before you say anything? And is it considered prosecutorial misconduct to repeatedly try to talk someone out of speaking to their lawyer, even after theyíve said they want to?
Wider context is with regards to an old case described in this link. Emphasis in original. I remind my fellow posters that this is GQ and the question involves facts about the law as practiced in the US. Illuminating international comparisons might be an interesting hijack though, after the question is answered.
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Old 06-11-2018, 04:59 PM
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I too would like to know if the police can legally offer you a deal that is conditional on you not talking to a lawyer first.
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Old 06-11-2018, 06:13 PM
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I too would like to know if the police can legally offer you a deal that is conditional on you not talking to a lawyer first.
Before I would want to accept a "deal" form the police I would want to be sure the "deal" is legally binding. that is I would want it in writing signed by someone who had the authority to offer such a deal, and the authority to sign said "deal". And with what I know about the law I would need to discuss the deal with my lawyer.
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Old 06-11-2018, 07:07 PM
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IANAL but I'll suggest the obvious:

You're a witness to a crime. There is video to the effect that you were simply a witness to the crime. You weren't doing anything illegal. The police are asking you to help identify the perpetrator.

In this case, asking for a lawyer is generally just going to be wasting everyone's time and make it more difficult for the police to do their job of protecting you and the rest of the populace. Potentially, they may look into you and see if you are guilty of stuff, simply because you asked for a lawyer without cause.
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Old 06-11-2018, 07:34 PM
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I would suggest that after the police read you your Miranda rights, ask for a lawyer every time ... although the lawyer types here will certainly clarify this ...
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Old 06-11-2018, 07:42 PM
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IANAL but I'll suggest the obvious:

You're a witness to a crime. There is video to the effect that you were simply a witness to the crime. You weren't doing anything illegal. The police are asking you to help identify the perpetrator.

In this case, asking for a lawyer is generally just going to be wasting everyone's time and make it more difficult for the police to do their job of protecting you and the rest of the populace. Potentially, they may look into you and see if you are guilty of stuff, simply because you asked for a lawyer without cause.
You aren't being arrested, I assume they didn't Mirandize you and probably can't compel you to give a statement, or even stick around. On the one hand, I think it would be understandable for someone to say "I'm happy to give you a statement about what I saw, but I'd prefer to have my lawyer present (or have my lawyer write it and send it to you)". I'm sure I/we could come up with a reason or two someone might say that.

OTOH, if this happened immediately after the crime, maybe the crime scene is still live and a someone is on the run and time is important and all they're asking you is which way he ran, I could see them arresting you for obstructing justice. If for no other reason hoping that the handcuffs and the back of the squad car will get you to cough up the info they're looking for. Of course, once they read you your rights, you can clam up until a lawyer is present.
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Old 06-11-2018, 08:24 PM
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I just want to know if the situation described is legal, not if it is advisable according to various opinions.
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Old 06-11-2018, 08:53 PM
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I would suggest that after the police read you your Miranda rights, ask for a lawyer every time ... although the lawyer types here will certainly clarify this ...
I can question you without reading your Miranda rights if you are not under arrest and free to go.
Even in that case if it were me I wouldn't answer anything, but if I did I'd still want an attorney present and my union rep.

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I too would like to know if the police can legally offer you a deal that is conditional on you not talking to a lawyer first.
No. And the police cannot offer deals only the prosecutor can.
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Old 06-11-2018, 09:00 PM
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I too would like to know if the police can legally offer you a deal that is conditional on you not talking to a lawyer first.
I doubt that the prosecutor would phrase it that way but it's a standard in police dramas that the deal is being offered for only a few minutes. If you don't take the deal now then there is no deal and you can take your chances at trial. I'm sure it never occurred to the prosecutor that you haven't had time to consult your attorney.
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Old 06-11-2018, 11:56 PM
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Thanks pkbites.

Everyone, listen to the law enforcement officer. Don't answer questions without an attorney.
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Old 06-12-2018, 12:20 AM
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Thanks pkbites.

Everyone, listen to the law enforcement officer. Don't answer questions without an attorney.
I'm just saying what I would do. I am not a lawyer, it was not legal advice.
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Old 06-12-2018, 01:03 AM
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"Why do you want to talk to a lawyer? We're just talking. (On the record, about you)."

Relevant Quora thread: https://www.quora.com/If-you-ask-for...-able-to-leave

One interesting twist: police officers are permitted and even encouraged in some ways to lie to suspects. Lying to a police officer in the performance of his duties is a crime. Politely and repeatedly requesting a lawyer while refusing to answer other questions is recommended.

IANAL, this is not legal advice. Others more conversant in the law may find other gems there.
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Old 06-12-2018, 01:10 AM
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if it were me I wouldn't answer anything, but if I did I'd still want an attorney present .
You are an experienced police officer....and this scares me.

How does it work out in your daily work day?
I assume that every day you talk to bystanders about the simple stuff. I doubt if it's as dramatic as on TV, (with you holding your gun and asking which way the robber ran) But even simple stuff like a minor car accident, or a drunk disorderly conduct outside a bar, or a complaint by the neighbors about family violence.....you surely have to ask the bystanders what they saw. And you certainly have to ask the person who called you to the scene and filed the complaint.
These are all presumably innocent witnesses, and-since you only just arrived at the scene , they know more about what just happened 10 minutes ago than you do.Surely you have to talk to the them.

Yet you offer blanket advice to us all: "not to answer anything".
How do you do your job? And how should I, as a bystander, assist/not-assist you?






(yes, I'm a naive, "privileged", middle-class white guy near retirement age, who's never had any contact with the police, other than a couple of traffic tickets.)

Last edited by chappachula; 06-12-2018 at 01:11 AM.
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Old 06-12-2018, 01:12 AM
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Having a lawyer present is going to hurt you in the pocketbook; and lawyers charge serious money.
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Old 06-12-2018, 01:12 AM
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Suppose a police officer comes to your door saying, "I'm sorry, but I need to talk to you about your daughter. When did you last see her?" You have the right to insist upon consulting with a lawyer first, but if you do so, you are almost certainly moving yourself over from concerned parent to prime suspect.

(Of course that might happen anyway, depending on the facts of the matter).
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Old 06-12-2018, 02:03 AM
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I have a friend who once worked for Children's Services in [largish conservative central American city]. Her advice: don't let anyone in your house without a warrant, don't talk to anyone without a lawyer. Mind you this is social services not even the cops.

Respect to pkbites and other straight-up peace officers, but you don't want to play nice with the cops who won't play nice with you, and civilians can't tell the difference.
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Old 06-12-2018, 02:23 AM
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Yet you offer blanket advice to us all: "not to answer anything".
How do you do your job? And how should I, as a bystander, assist/not-assist you?
Don't be a schnook. I'm talking about if you are being interviewed as a possible crime suspect or person of interest. Jeez!
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Old 06-12-2018, 07:57 AM
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Don't be a schnook. I'm talking about if you are being interviewed as a possible crime suspect or person of interest. Jeez!
That was my point about being read your Miranda rights ... we should definitely shut up after that ...

Getting pulled over late at night on weekends and holidays around here is fairly common ... whatever lame excuse the officer has, they will ask if we've been drinking ... that makes this a felony investigation, prison time if we blow 0.08% BAC (0.05% in Utah ISTR) ... if we ask for a lawyer here, this fifteen minute pain-in-the-ass traffic stop becomes the rest of the night in jail waiting for the expensive lawyer to show up in the morning, and we still might get convicted in court eight months later ...

Better to say "no" and apologize for changing two lanes at once instead of one at a time ... maybe it's my charming personality and beautiful head of hair but I always get off with warnings in these cases ... then again, I don't drive drunk ... ever ...

Last edited by watchwolf49; 06-12-2018 at 07:59 AM. Reason: Inserted a comma ... may wonders never cess ...
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Old 06-12-2018, 08:28 AM
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I have a friend who once worked for Children's Services in [largish conservative central American city]. Her advice: don't let anyone in your house without a warrant, don't talk to anyone without a lawyer. Mind you this is social services not even the cops.

Respect to pkbites and other straight-up peace officers, but you don't want to play nice with the cops who won't play nice with you, and civilians can't tell the difference.
I have a friend who is a cop. His advice is never talk to a cop without your lawyer present. When my kids were little he talked with us as a group about this. He even played out situations (he was in uniform) and critiqued their responses.

He also talked about how it's not just a few bad apples; but rather that the true minority is "good cops" who behave ethically and do not turn a blind eye to other cop's misdeeds.
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Old 06-12-2018, 08:44 AM
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I too would like to know if the police can legally offer you a deal that is conditional on you not talking to a lawyer first.
Legal, maybe, but suspicious as hell if you ask me. If the deal is on the up-and-up, and the police are really interested in making it, why in the world would they care whether or not you consulted your lawyer? The only logical answer to that question is that your lawyer may tell you things that they don't want you to know.

So, you are interested in buying my used car, but you want to have a mechanic friend take a look at it first. I say, "No, you have to buy it right now." You gonna' buy it?
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Old 06-12-2018, 09:37 AM
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Getting pulled over late at night on weekends and holidays around here is fairly common ... whatever lame excuse the officer has, they will ask if we've been drinking ... that makes this a felony investigation, prison time if we blow 0.08% BAC (0.05% in Utah ISTR) ... if we ask for a lawyer here, this fifteen minute pain-in-the-ass traffic stop becomes the rest of the night in jail waiting for the expensive lawyer to show up in the morning, and we still might get convicted in court eight months later ...

Better to say "no" and apologize for changing two lanes at once instead of one at a time...
What if you actually have been drinking? Maybe you had one beer with dinner; you're not exactly driving under the influence, but if you say no, then you're lying to the cop. Maybe your not-so-savvy wife or kid in the car with you says "what about that beer you had with dinner," and suddenly you may have a major legal problem.

If the cop is asking you questions that could incriminate you, you don't need to insist on consulting a lawyer - you can simply refuse to answer such questions at all.

"Have you been drinking tonight?"

"Sorry officer, I'm not going to answer that."

"What are you doing over here in [an area far from your home that's known for drug activity]?"

"Sorry officer, I'm not going to answer that."

"Are there any illegal drugs in your car?"

"Sorry officer, I'm not going to answer that." (don't say no, because if your passenger stashed some weed under the seat, you could have a problem)

"Do you mind if I search your car?"

"Sorry officer, I will not consent to a search of my car." (this should always be your answer no matter what you believe is or is not in your car; your beliefs may be incorrect)

"Is there any particular reason you won't consent?"

"Sorry officer, I'm not going to answer that."

"I can detain you here until the drug K-9 arrives to inspect your car."

"Acknowledged."

Now he has to decide if he should waste everyone's time with what may be an unproductive K9 search. If you're lucky, he won't - or he will, but the dog won't find anything. But you don't help yourself by confessing upfront, consenting to a search, or lying in an attempt to avoid being arrested.
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Old 06-12-2018, 10:21 AM
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Why you should never talk to the police

Relevant video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d-7o9xYp7eE

After watching this video, I've come to the conclusion that it is never in my best interest to ever talk to a police officer without an attorney present.
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Old 06-12-2018, 10:42 AM
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What if you actually have been drinking? Maybe you had one beer with dinner; you're not exactly driving under the influence, but if you say no, then you're lying to the cop. Maybe your not-so-savvy wife or kid in the car with you says "what about that beer you had with dinner," and suddenly you may have a major legal problem.

If the cop is asking you questions that could incriminate you, you don't need to insist on consulting a lawyer - you can simply refuse to answer such questions at all.

"Have you been drinking tonight?"

"Sorry officer, I'm not going to answer that."

"What are you doing over here in [an area far from your home that's known for drug activity]?"

"Sorry officer, I'm not going to answer that."

"Are there any illegal drugs in your car?"

"Sorry officer, I'm not going to answer that." (don't say no, because if your passenger stashed some weed under the seat, you could have a problem)

"Do you mind if I search your car?"

"Sorry officer, I will not consent to a search of my car." (this should always be your answer no matter what you believe is or is not in your car; your beliefs may be incorrect)

"Is there any particular reason you won't consent?"

"Sorry officer, I'm not going to answer that."

"I can detain you here until the drug K-9 arrives to inspect your car."

"Acknowledged."

Now he has to decide if he should waste everyone's time with what may be an unproductive K9 search. If you're lucky, he won't - or he will, but the dog won't find anything. But you don't help yourself by confessing upfront, consenting to a search, or lying in an attempt to avoid being arrested.
And, of course, whether or not, and to what extent the officer can hold you while awaiting arrival of a drug dog depends on various factors; it's not an indefinite amount of time, see: Rodriguez v. United States, 575 US ___ (13-9972) (2015)
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Old 06-12-2018, 11:15 AM
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Just to reiterate - in crime dramas (Law & Order 101) the police carefully don't offer a deal - they only tell you "make things easier for all of us" if you talk. I seriously doubt the prosecutor will make a "you've got 5 minutes" deal (except if it's L&O and they're in recess from the middle of the trial...). The whole point of deals is to avoid a trial. Even a slam-dunk case at trial might be several days and a lot of everyone's time. The cops can lie about things "your buddy confessed, if you don't we'll use his confession against you and he'll get off". But... they can't promise a deal because police can't.

Once the police have decided to arrest you, you very very likely cannot talk your way out of it - they've already decided there's enough reason to arrest you, and whatever you try to argue will only add to the reasons. At the very least, you'll send several hours downtown until your lawyer sorts things out. They people who think they can talk their way out of a traffic ticket, or arrest, or whatever probably have more confidence than brains and only make it worse for themselves. They are usually the type on Judge Judy "Yeah I broke into his house and took his TV but that was because he hadn't paid back the $400 he owed me."
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Old 06-12-2018, 11:31 AM
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It isn't actually as straightforward a question as the YouTube professors make it out to be. Most people aren't capable of intelligently evaluating those circumstances. They tend to think if they didn't do anything wrong, they don't need a lawyer. So the advice given is generally categorical: don't talk to the cops. If the advice is more nuanced, most people would fumble it.

But the reality is more complicated. Sometimes it *does* hurt to refuse to talk to the cops. The main thing that will hurt you if you refuse to talk is that you piss off the cops. And in our broken criminal justice system, the cops have the power to fuck you. They can extend the period of your arrest. They can ask for and usually get higher bail. In many jurisdictions, they decide whether and what you'll be charged with at least until your preliminary hearing. They decide how to testify and how truthful to be. Pissing off the cops is a very real negative consequence to exercising your rights--especially if your place in the social hierarchy is low enough that a judge isn't going to buy your story, whatever it may be.

What that means is that if you witnessed a serious crime, and your real criminal exposure is small, and your social standing is low enough, you are often better off talking to the cops quickly. It should not be that way. But it is. l
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Old 06-12-2018, 11:32 AM
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I have a friend who is a cop. His advice is never talk to a cop without your lawyer present. When my kids were little he talked with us as a group about this. He even played out situations (he was in uniform) and critiqued their responses.

He also talked about how it's not just a few bad apples; but rather that the true minority is "good cops" who behave ethically and do not turn a blind eye to other cop's misdeeds.
That rolls back to post chappachula's post #13. Does he recommend never talking to a cop at all, even if you're just a witness to an event?
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Old 06-12-2018, 11:56 AM
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In most (all?) states, if you have a driver's license, you have given "express consent" to submit to a blood/breath test to determine your blood alcohol level if cops have probable cause to believe that you are under the influence.

Meaning, if you get arrested for driving while drunk, the police will ask if you want to take a blood or breath test, or if you refuse (and, as a result, automatically lose your license). You are not entitled to speak to a lawyer before making this decision.

As for the OP's question, and speaking as a lawyer, it actually doesn't hurt to answer a question if your answer is consistent with all of the evidence. The problem is that, if you are the defendant, your statements will come in at trial, so anything that is inconsistent with all of the other facts of the case will tend to make you look guilty. That's why, from your attorney's perspective, it's just easier not to have you say anything which the prosecution can work with.

But if, for example, you ran into a car that cut into your intersection, telling the cop (consistently) that you had the green light is not bad, especially if you did, in fact, have the green light (as will be verified by other witnesses, et al).

Last edited by Moriarty; 06-12-2018 at 11:56 AM.
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Old 06-12-2018, 12:13 PM
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That rolls back to post chappachula's post #13. Does he recommend never talking to a cop at all, even if you're just a witness to an event?
He told me (and my kids) to never talk to a cop without a lawyer present. His reasoning is that if it is not an absolute, there is too much leeway to waiver.
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Old 06-12-2018, 12:20 PM
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Having a lawyer present is going to hurt you in the pocketbook; and lawyers charge serious money.
I thought legal counsel is provided free-of-charge if you can not afford one.

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Originally Posted by gumpy3885 View Post
Relevant video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d-7o9xYp7eE

After watching this video, I've come to the conclusion that it is never in my best interest to ever talk to a police officer without an attorney present.
Yes, it's pretty well known. I saw the video a long time ago and it is right on most points. Truthfully, even if you are 100% innocent and clueless, if the police come and want to talk to you about a situation, have a lawyer there. And remain silent, most likely.

I've often imagined a situation where the police show up at my door and ask me about something I am genuinely clueless about. I'd tell them I have no idea. If they wanted me to come in, I'd ask for a lawyer in the room. And remain silent, most likely.
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Old 06-12-2018, 12:50 PM
Richard Parker Richard Parker is offline
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I thought legal counsel is provided free-of-charge if you can not afford one.
Only after you are charged with a crime, and in many jurisdictions, not until you are either detained or appear at a preliminary hearing. They won't give you a free lawyer just for interrogation.
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Old 06-12-2018, 12:58 PM
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I thought legal counsel is provided free-of-charge if you can not afford one.
Only after you've been arrested. So if you are the victim of a crime or a witness to one, you will not be entitled to a free lawyer.



kayaker , does your friend realize his advice can in fact get you into trouble in some situations? He's absolutely correct that you shouldn't talk to the police without a lawyer in a situation where you are suspected of committing a crime. But the reality is, that isn't the most common situation where people are talking to the police. It's far more common for people to talk to the police because they are victims of a crime or have been involved in an automobile accident. And in those situations, not talking to the police can have worse consequences than talking to them.


Imagine that I have decided to take your friend's advice and never talk to the police without a lawyer present. I walk out to my car tomorrow morning at 6 am and it's not there - but I'm not going to report it until I can arrange for a lawyer to be with me. It takes me until 10 am to find a lawyer I can afford to go with me to make the report. But before we get to the precinct to make the report, the police are at my house because someone driving my car mowed through a crowd of pedestrians crossing the street at 8:30. And there's video that clearly shows that it's my car with my license plate. Who is going to believe that the car was really stolen if I didn't report it until more than four hours later, after the crime was committed?

Or I'm forced from my car at gunpoint , but my child is still in the car and I don't report it until I can get a lawyer to accompany me and in the meantime the thief crashed the car and my child was injured. Or I don't immediately report that my husband has beaten me, and although he does eventually get arrested, he gets acquitted because the jury doesn't find me credible because I waited so long to report it.
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Old 06-12-2018, 01:08 PM
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If I walk outside to get into my car and it is gone, I'd call 911 and report the theft. My insurance company requires I do that. I do not think the 911 operator is "the police". "My lawyer" is an attorney/friend who I've used for a number of legal situations, and I'd call him immediately as well.

Additionally, I want to keep my interactions withe the police to a minimum. If instead of my car, I were to find that my garden gnome had gone missing would I call the cops? Nope. My outdoor hose stolen? Nope. In those situations I am self insured. A police interaction isn't going to get my $29.95 back, and I do not want to invite LEO onto my property unless there is no other option.
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Old 06-12-2018, 01:10 PM
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kayaker , does your friend realize his advice can in fact get you into trouble in some situations?
He's a cop. He's also one of the most honest, ethical people I know. Balancing the risks/rewards he has urged his friends to avoid interaction with law enforcement. That's scary, and it is advice I've followed.

Last edited by kayaker; 06-12-2018 at 01:11 PM. Reason: advice, not advise
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Old 06-12-2018, 01:24 PM
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If I walk outside to get into my car and it is gone, I'd call 911 and report the theft. My insurance company requires I do that. I do not think the 911 operator is "the police". "My lawyer" is an attorney/friend who I've used for a number of legal situations, and I'd call him immediately as well.
You may not consider the 911 operator to be "the police" - but where I live, if I call 911 to report my car stolen a police car is going to show up to actually take the report. And if I don't talk to those real police, no report will be made. And while you may have a friend/lawyer who will rush right over to be there when they arrive, most people don't.

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Additionally, I want to keep my interactions withe the police to a minimum. If instead of my car, I were to find that my garden gnome had gone missing would I call the cops? Nope. My outdoor hose stolen? Nope. In those situations I am self insured. A police interaction isn't going to get my $29.95 back, and I do not want to invite LEO onto my property unless there is no other option.
I wouldn't call them for a garden gnome or a hose either- but according to your rendition of your friend's advice it was something along the lines of "never talk to the police without a lawyer . No exceptions. Not if you are the victim of a crime, not if you're in a car accident , not if you are a witness to a crime or an auto accident." And in some of those situations , not talking to the police is worse. I don't know if your friend didn't consider those situations or if he assumed that you would have the sense to be able to tell the difference or if he defined "talking to the police" so as not to include reporting crimes when you are the victim and therefore didn't actually say the "not even if your a victim or a witness" part.
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Old 06-12-2018, 01:39 PM
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Only after you are charged with a crime, and in many jurisdictions, not until you are either detained or appear at a preliminary hearing. They won't give you a free lawyer just for interrogation.
And, even then, aren't you on the hook to have wages garnisheed (or whatever) if, for example, you later cash a CD or get a better job?
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Old 06-12-2018, 01:43 PM
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He's a cop. He's also one of the most honest, ethical people I know. Balancing the risks/rewards he has urged his friends to avoid interaction with law enforcement. That's scary, and it is advice I've followed.
I think there is an excellent chance your friend is an asshole. Or at the very least someone very disgruntled with their job. The same people who say never have interactions with the police are usually the same ones who complain that the police canít solve crimes.

I interact with many people all day long. Give them directions. Take reports of crimes. Perform CPR on their grandfather. Give narcan to their brother. Talk about the weather. 20 years none of them have ever needed a lawyer and it worked out fine for everyone. Except for the grandfather. He died. But a lawyer wouldnít have helped.
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Old 06-12-2018, 01:54 PM
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I too would like to know if the police can legally offer you a deal that is conditional on you not talking to a lawyer first.
I will answer that clearly for you but understand I can only answer for New Jersey. Here in many ways we go beyond what SCOTUS has ruled. All suspect interviews are taped. The police can not make deals. Although we are allowed to lie in interviews that is not absolute. There are limits. One of those limits is that we canít lie about being able to make a deal. We can say we will go to bat for them with the prosecutor but thatís not a lie and we have to make it clear that we canít guarantee anything. Also there is no way we can try to talk him out of getting a lawyer. If he says a word that rhymes with lawyer we have to stop and go over Miranda again Iíve seen a statement get thrown out when a suspect looked up to the sky and muttered ďshould I get a lawyer?Ē under his breath. It was thrown out because he wasnít re-Mirandized immediately. No one tried to talk him out of it but he mentioned the word lawyer and that was enough. Our courts are very touchy about the right to a lawyer.
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Old 06-12-2018, 01:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Loach View Post
I think there is an excellent chance your friend is an asshole. Or at the very least someone very disgruntled with their job.
I don't think he's an asshole. I do know that he is very disgruntled with the job. His explanation of his disgruntledness is that the majority of the people he works with/under are dishonest to some degree or another.
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Old 06-12-2018, 02:12 PM
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Originally Posted by Loach View Post
I interact with many people all day long. Give them directions. Take reports of crimes. Perform CPR on their grandfather. Give narcan to their brother. Talk about the weather. 20 years none of them have ever needed a lawyer and it worked out fine for everyone. Except for the grandfather. He died. But a lawyer wouldnít have helped.
Oh c'mon Loach. No one who has ever spoken to you without a lawyer has had what they said to you used against them? That seems terribly unlikely to me.
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Old 06-12-2018, 02:12 PM
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Originally Posted by Measure for Measure View Post
Relevant Quora thread: https://www.quora.com/If-you-ask-for...-able-to-leave

One interesting twist: police officers are permitted and even encouraged in some ways to lie to suspects. Lying to a police officer in the performance of his duties is a crime. Politely and repeatedly requesting a lawyer while refusing to answer other questions is recommended.

IANAL, this is not legal advice. Others more conversant in the law may find other gems there.

Lying to a police officer is not specifically a crime in most jurisdictions. You canít pretend to be someone else to avoid a warrant or give false personal information to get out of a ticket. That falls under hindering and obstruction laws. Telling a cop you were on Maple st when you know you were on Main? Not illegal. Telling a cop you had no alcohol but you really had 10? Not illegal. Lying becomes a crime when itís under oath and perjury.

The one big exception is it is against federal law to lie to the FBI. Just ask Martha Stewart.
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Old 06-12-2018, 02:16 PM
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Oh c'mon Loach. No one who has ever spoken to you without a lawyer has had what they said to you used against them? That seems terribly unlikely to me.
As several people have pointed out already, if you are suspected of a crime you should get a lawyer. 98.35% of the people I have interacted with were not suspects of anything and did not need a lawyer. The nature of the business is you speak with a lot more victims than suspects.
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Old 06-12-2018, 02:19 PM
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I don't think he's an asshole. I do know that he is very disgruntled with the job. His explanation of his disgruntledness is that the majority of the people he works with/under are dishonest to some degree or another.
It’s possible he works in a bad place. It’s possibke there have been departments with a toxic culture. It’s also possible his coworkers could give you an earful about what he is really like at work that would surprise you.

Last edited by Loach; 06-12-2018 at 02:20 PM.
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Old 06-12-2018, 02:39 PM
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As several people have pointed out already, if you are suspected of a crime you should get a lawyer. 98.35% of the people I have interacted with were not suspects of anything and did not need a lawyer. The nature of the business is you speak with a lot more victims than suspects.
What percentage of people know they are suspected of a crime before you say anything to each other?
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Old 06-12-2018, 03:16 PM
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Itís possible he works in a bad place. Itís possibke there have been departments with a toxic culture. Itís also possible his coworkers could give you an earful about what he is really like at work that would surprise you.
All I know is that he is unhappy with his coworkers willingness to lie in order to get arrests/convictions. When ordered to change reports in order to cover others' lies, he does so grudgingly. I think the department is textbook "bad".

What I really wonder about is how typical that police department is, nationally.
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Old 06-12-2018, 05:59 PM
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What percentage of people know they are suspected of a crime before you say anything to each other?
If you don't know what it's about and whether you are suspect material, especially after the first question or two, then it's probably a good idea to play it safe.

This topic reminds me of Susan Nelles, a nurse in Toronto back in the 80's. When the police went through the staff asking about an unusual number of baby deaths, they arrested her because instead of breaking down and sobbing about the poor babies like the (male) police expected she should when questioned, she asked if she should get a lawyer. After a few years, an extremely high profile trial where her defense asked why they hadn't considered another nurse who made a much better suspect, she was acquitted. A decade or ore later, new scientific tests suggested that the babies had not been administered lethal doses of digoxin, it was a false positive as a result of the type of test... the deaths were natural not murder.
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Old 06-12-2018, 06:24 PM
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Generally speaking I understand it's best to consult with a defense attorney before having a lengthy conversation with a police officer or prosecutor. Kevin Drum asks whether there are exceptions to this rule:
I have a question for any practicing defense lawyers in the audience: does it ever hurt to refuse to talk to police or prosecutors until you have a lawyer present? Is it ever the case that you lose, say, a chance at immunity if you demand to have your lawyer present before you say anything? And is it considered prosecutorial misconduct to repeatedly try to talk someone out of speaking to their lawyer, even after they’ve said they want to?
Wider context is with regards to an old case described in this link. Emphasis in original. I remind my fellow posters that this is GQ and the question involves facts about the law as practiced in the US. Illuminating international comparisons might be an interesting hijack though, after the question is answered.
I have been on trial for a serious felony, and it is always best to keep your mouth shut, and speak to your attorney only. Once you speak, and it becomes official record, it is written in stone. And once you begin to talk, you are opening a Pandors Box, which is not easy to shut.

There is a reason that the Founders put it in the Constitution, that "“[No person]…shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself…” It is there for the defendants own good.
https://criminal.findlaw.com/crimina...amendment.html

PS: I was acquitted of the felony charge.

Last edited by Mister Mills; 06-12-2018 at 06:28 PM.
  #47  
Old 06-12-2018, 07:58 PM
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Legal: does it *ever* hurt to refuse to talk until you have a lawyer present? (US)

I was just coming to post about Susan Nelles, the nurse md2000 mentioned.

It's true that in her case, "lawyering up" made her the prime suspect in the eyes of the police, as Tom Tildrum suggests.

However, after her acquittal and the successful civil action she brought, where the damages were aggravated because the police targetted her for exercising her constitutional right, I think the police have got the message that they are not allowed to target someone because they insist on speaking to a lawyer.

Last edited by Northern Piper; 06-12-2018 at 07:59 PM.
  #48  
Old 06-12-2018, 08:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Czarcasm View Post
I too would like to know if the police can legally offer you a deal that is conditional on you not talking to a lawyer first.


I held off on answering this question from the Canadian perspective because the OP asked to hear from USians first, but now that a day's gone by, I thought I'd jump in.

I'm not aware of any case quite like your example, Czarcasm, but the Supreme Court of Canada has held that police cannot try to dissuade someone from speaking to a lawyer. As agents of the state, they have to respect the individual's exercise of their constitutional rights and must hold off on questioning as soon as the individual asserts their right to speak to a lawyer.
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Old 06-12-2018, 10:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kayaker View Post
All I know is that he is unhappy with his coworkers willingness to lie in order to get arrests/convictions. When ordered to change reports in order to cover others' lies, he does so grudgingly. I think the department is textbook "bad".
Or these claims he makes are complete bullshit.

One of my fellow officers is like that. According to him everyone else on the department is a liar, and incompetent. I'm certain that the friends and neighbors he has outside of work (nobody on the department can stand him) believes our department is corrupt and he alone has to cover for our lies and fuck ups simply because that's what he told them. In reality he is a malcontent. He is a very unhappy soul and nothing will ever change that no matter who does that. And the claims he makes about lies, misconduct, cover ups, and incompetencies are completely false, or at best huge exaggerations of minor screw ups.

Whether your guy is actually on the level or not I don't know. But I'm not taking your word for his. Sorry.
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  #50  
Old 06-12-2018, 11:08 PM
DavidwithanR DavidwithanR is offline
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This is a question on a USA technicality.

Don't people in the US already have the right to remain silent, before anyone tells them so?

Why, in the example of a cautious police interaction, was the person articulating his refusal to answer? Why not remain silent, for real?
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