Should you ever even go to an interrogation room with the police? Like, even with your lawyer?

This lawyer here says that not only should you never speak to the police, you shouldn’t even go in there with your legal representation. Let your lawyer speak to the police without you being there and you can speak privately to your lawyer only.

Is this right? I have long known that speaking to the police about a case is a bad idea, but I always figured I’d sit there with a lawyer and let my lawyer answer questions. Or perhaps more accurately, sit there for a few minutes while my lawyer explains I am not answering any questions at all about anything.

What do you think? Don’t even go in the police station with your lawyer(s) with you? Or go with him/her there by your side and stay silent, allowing your lawyer to make sure you…shut up and are not pestered/coerced into speaking.

*Note: I still speak to the officer if I’m pulled over for speeding. Not worth it to me to avoid the ticket or go to court over the whole thing. I also do think you should speak to the police if, you know, you have to call them because you are in danger. Even the lawyer in the linked video said, “help! he’s drowning” is a reasonable time to talk to the police.

You do have the right to remain silent, and also to have a lawyer.

The police can compel you to come in, like it or no.

But if they do, you can sit there until your lawyer indicates you should answer.

If they do not compel you, go in if your counsel recommends it.

Do call 911 for a emergency. If the police have arrived and they need more info, cooperate, unless they start questioning you. For example,it is fine to tell them if you think anyone is in that car in the river,etc.

Ianal

I don’t know that I’d trust anyone who picked out that shirt and tie combination; that said, he is correct that any time you are being ‘interviewed’ by police, your statements are subject to future use against you or others whether you intend it or not. If you are not in custody and your lawyer advises that you should not share information with the police, there is nothing to be gained and potentially a lot to lose by subjecting to interrogation even if you have done nothing wrong. An interrogator may try to threaten you with arrest and prosecution just to elicit a response, which is something an attorney alone can filter out because they have both the emotional distance and lack of personal stakes. I’m sure any experienced defense attorney can relate the cases they lost because despite advice their clients wouldn’t exercise their right to remain silent.

Stranger

Well, yes, but I think my question is if you even should go in. @DrDeth says they can get you to come in even if you don’t want to. I wondered about that.

Despite his clothing choices, I did think the lawyer in the video seemed intelligent and was giving good advice.

You should definitely never go in without a lawyer.

If you have a lawyer, you should do what your lawyer says. If you really want to do something other than what your lawyer says, you should strongly consider getting a different lawyer. If you can’t find one who thinks that what you want to do is a good idea, it’s a really bad idea.

Yes, they can arrest you, or detain you, or have the DA or others issue a subpoena.

You can ask if you are “free to go”.

Actually, generally speaking they cannot ‘compel’ you to an interrogation or testimony unless you are under arrest or have been subpoenaed. Police can detain you for a period of time sufficient only to ascertain your identity or inquire to your willingness to answer questions but you can only be legally held in custody if they can demonstrate a legitimate suspicion that you have committed a crime. When in doubt, you should ask, “Am I being detained?” and “What infraction do you believe I have committed?” It they cannot answer these questions, you are (legally) free to go, and if you are being detained or accused of a crime, your next statement should be, “I want to call my lawyer.”

Stranger

That is what I said in a later post.

I’ve watched a ton of First 48 episodes, a true crime show where they solve murders. I can not even count how many people would have gotten away with it if they did not come and speak to the police or only entered the room with a lawyer sitting right there…and then remained silent.

Here are the phrases I hear on First 48:

  • We just want to hear your side
  • Come on, help yourself out here
  • Do you want the jury to think you are a cold-blooded remorseless killer?
  • Well, we can get you a lawyer, but you are going to jail tonight to wait for one
  • We just want to ask you a few questions

These are all just ways to get people in there. I would never go without a lawyer and would probably prefer to not go at all and let my lawyer get all their questions up front and then we opt not to answer almost all of them.

The assumption behind a number of posts (and in previous threads on this subject) is that the person being asked to provide information to the police 1) committed the crime, 2) otherwise has guilty knowledge, or 3) has reason to believe he/she is at risk of falsely being accused of the crime.

This may be due to language like “interrogation room”, denoting a setting of bright lights, lack of comfy chairs and cops offering you a soft drink merely so they can collect your DNA from the can.

There are instances where I might be wary of “helping out” the authorities, such as voluntarily appearing in a lineup, something a friend of mine in grad school agreed to do (he was not picked out).

On the other hand, refusing even to be questioned in the presence of a lawyer might be counterproductive, not just because it would create increased suspicion on the part of detectives but because you might actually have important information that would lead to the arrest and conviction of parties engaged in serious wrongdoing, whether or not you know/knew the victim.

Lawyer here. I have no magic wand. There’s nothing special I can do for you if you are answering questions.

Which is why I’d prefer you not do so. And so there’s no reason to go into an interrogation room. We don’t need to go in there to tell them that there’s no reason to go in there.

Do they have a legal basis to compel you? If so, let them enforce it. Otherwise, I want the police report to say something benign like “Suspect was asked to come and answer questions, but he said he would not do so and had nothing to say.” Why come down so they can scrutinize you, or gather physical evidence (DNA on the cup of water you threw in the trash), or try to change your mind?

Even conscientious and honorable police make mistakes. Some are neither of those things. If they read you your rights, get a lawyer and shut the hell up.

Um, what if you know that your DNA couldn’t possibly match that of the rapist/killer, and would prefer to avoid being followed to work or the mall so that a cop could snatch up your discarded lunch or cigarette in a vain attempt at DNA matching, or face a fruitless court order?

Related question: if the police ask you to confirm an alibi (eg you know your friend was with you at the time of the alleged crime), should you take a lawyer with you?

Nancy Grace would sure have you prepped for a lethal injection. :face_with_monocle:

I recently read a case in which the police told a suspect that they wanted his DNA to exonerate him from a robbery of a grocery store. In reality, there was no such robbery, but they did suspect that he had robbed his last place of business, a jewelry store he had recently left.

Knowing that he hadn’t robbed a grocery store, the suspect gave his sample. And the court said that this was an acceptable lie.

But the best part was that his DNA did NOT match the robbery of his old employer, either. However, it gained a hit on a sexual assault case.

Now, you may say that you would be offering up your DNA because you know you didn’t do any such crimes. I’d just suggest being wary of the fact that cops are allowed to deceive, and what may seem straightforward or innocent can be anything but.

Meaning, if you really truly do want to provide physical evidence, or a version of events, I’d still suggest doing so at arms length. We (the lawyer and client) will provide a written statement of what you recall, or we will answer written questions, or we will arrange to provide a DNA sample.

There’s just no good outcome - from a defense standpoint - from going to see the police unless you have to.

If you can confirm the alibi, why not tell the lawyer, and let the lawyer call the police and tell them that you are prepared to confirm the alibi?

And, let’s suppose that you don’t necessarily want to deal with the repercussions of this alibi - perhaps you were up to some shenanigans when you were with your friend. A shrewd lawyer may rope in the prosecutor’s office during discussions about your ability to confirm the alibi for the purposes of getting you immunity for your testimony.

(I had a successful white collar client who was able to provide details to the government about a suspect in the hour after a murder, but to provide that information he would have to admit that the guy was his drug dealer. He wanted, and got, immunity from any criminal prosecution for anything he told them, thereby incentivizing him to tell the investigators everything he could think of.)

I’m not so sure that a rapist who got caught this way bothers me much.

If you have information that is genuinely useful to identifying and prosecuting a crime, it can be provided through your lawyer with assurances that it does not in any way implicate you. Think of a lawyer as not only being your legal representation against an accusation but also a filter which evaluates the potential implications of the information that you provide, not only in the narrow context of that specific investigation but anything else that migHt stem from it.

There are a lot of entirely innocent people who believed that lack of guilt would protect them against prosecution only to discover that if police and a prosecutor really want to make a case they can find some basis for suspicion. If the police really need a DNA sample (What are they matching against? What is the scope of their use of the sample? Could your incidental DNA be anywhere in or around a crime scene pertaining to this crime or any other?) they can negotIate the terms with your lawyer. If you are providing the police with evidence gratis—especially personally identifiable information—you have no leverage over how and when they use it. A good lawyer will ensure that at least the scope of your cooperation and use of evidence is clearly spelled out. And quite frankly, if you did not commit a crime and aren’t being accused, it is of no benefit to you whatsoever to give the police a swab; it only benefits you in the context of disproving allegation.

Stranger