When bad things happen to good people, the police generally show up to figure out what happened and who did what to whom. The question is, what do you tell them when they arrive? But, before I answer that question, let me take a moment to dispel some myths.
Myth 1) “The police don’t arrest good guys.” That is absolutely false! You may be the good guy, but the police have no way of knowing that for certain. If you are involved in a self-defense incident, the police may not be able to determine who attacked whom. So, you will very likely be taken into custody by police. They may handcuff you and transport you to the police station for questioning. They may even book you in the local jail.
Myth 2) “If I cooperate with police it will go better for me.” FALSE! You CANNOT talk your way out of going to jail, but you most certainly can talk your way into going. You CANNOT talk your way out of being convicted of a crime, but you most certainly can talk your way into being convicted, even if you are innocent.
Myth 3) “The police are my friends and are there to help me.” True and FALSE. At the moment that you are being attacked the best person to have at your side is a police officer. However, when police arrive at the scene after an attack, they have no idea what happened or who the bad guy is. At that point they switch from protector to hunter. They are looking for someone to arrest for a crime. Talking to them and answering their questions only helps them build a case against you. Even if you are innocent, answering a police officer’s questions the wrong way could land you in prison for a very long time.
Myth 4) “Anything I say to a cop before he reads me the Miranda warning can’t be used against me.” WRONG…. FALSE…. DON’T YOU BELIEVE IT! If you make spontaneous utterances, they can and will be used against you!
Myth 5) “Cops don’t really remember everything I say.” FALSE. In today’s world everything is being recorded. It’s either audio only or audio and video, but it’s being recorded everywhere. Many police officers have recording devices on their duty belts and record every encounter. In the old days, we just wrote everything down. One way or the other, every single word you say is being recorded.
Now, if you’re still with me and reading this article, then I strongly suggest you watch the video below and then take the steps I’ve outlined in the rest of this article.
My universal advice to my students is this, “Whatever you do, don’t talk to the police!” In order to prepare for the day when an incident occurs (which hopefully never comes), you should have the following in place:
1) An emergency legal service that permits you to reach an attorney 24/7/365. The two I use are Legal Shield (formerly Pre-Paid Legal) and Second Call Defense. Both companies provide a service which gives you access to an attorney 7 days a week and 24 hours per day. If you use these emergency legal services, both of them state that you will be on the phone with an attorney in three rings or less. Defensive encounters often happen in the middle of the night when most attorneys are at home in bed. This gives you access to an attorney all the time.
2) A qualified defense attorney whom you know and with whom you have already met. You should use your Legal Shield or Second Call Defense account to get an attorney between you and the police officers on the scene of the incident. However, you’ll need a highly qualified local attorney to handle your case as you go forward.
3) A local bail bondsman whom you know. If you don’t know a bail bondman, just look on the web and go see one. If you travel, make sure you have the number of a national bail bonds company that has offices in the areas through which you travel.
4) A loved-one or close friend whose phone number you remember by heart. Give this person the contact information for your bail bondsman and attorney. Also give this person your credit card number with instructions to use the credit card only for bailing your butt out of jail. If you are arrested, the jailer will take all of your personal belongings and store them. Any phone numbers you have in your cell phone or wallet may no longer be in your possession by the time you are allowed to use a phone. If your friend or loved-one has all the information ahead of time, all you have to do is remember one telephone number. Don’t forget, you cannot receive calls in jail. That’s why your friend or loved-one will have to do the work for you. Even if you call your bondsman from the jail, he or she can’t call you back in the event that you were forced to leave a voicemail.
You should assume the worst and prepare for it. Assume that you will be arrested and assume that you will have to defend yourself in both criminal and civil court. Talking to the police cannot help you. It can only hurt you. So, respectfully tell the officer that you are not willing to answer questions and that you wish to contact your attorney at once. The officer may try to pressure or persuade you to answer the officer’s questions. Respectfully refuse and asked to call your attorney. At some point, the police must allow you to contact your lawyer. As soon as you are permitted to do so, call your emergency legal service attorney and hand the phone to the police officer, then shut up. Let your attorney deal with the cops for you. If you end up going to jail, you already have your get out of jail plan in place. Have your friend get you out and then go to your local attorney and tell your story ONLY to him or her. Don’t tell anybody else anything. Police will interview your friends and family. You don’t want something you said to a friend to get back to the police.
Two last points to remember: 1) Police officers are not required to tell the truth. They can lie to your face while interviewing you. 2) Police officers are professional interviewers and interrogators. You cannot outwit them or out-maneuver them. Don’t try. Just get behind your lawyer and be quiet.