Talking to the Police: Just Say NO!
Many people think that they are required to talk to the police when being questioned or investigated. I want to tell you one piece of advice that could save you from a criminal conviction on your record. You have the right to remain silent and you should use that right. The police cannot force you to talk to them.
Police officers are trained to get information from suspects and potential witnesses. They may try to scare you into making a statement and answering their questions. They may try to tell you that if you don’t answer their questions, you will be arrested. Don’t be fooled. They are going to arrest you one way or the other if they feel they have enough evidence.
Very rarely does someone talk themselves out of trouble. It is far more common to see someone talk themselves into trouble.
Don't Fall for the "Good" Cop Routine
Another tactic the police in Okaloosa County like to use is to tell the suspect that they believe you are innocent and just need a little information from you.
The police use these tactics to catch people in a lie and to gather evidence to use during your criminal prosecution. Most times, after someone does talk to the police, they are arrested anyway, and have given the cops ammunition to use against them.
Even if you are innocent, most likely you will be nervous while answering their questions and it is very easy to misunderstand one of their questions, or be misled by their interrogation tactics, and answer something in a way that makes you look guilty.
Always Request an Attorney Before You Talk!
Here at Flaherty & Merrifield, we get a lot of calls from people who haven’t been arrested yet, but the police want to question them. Our advice is to ALWAYS respectfully say no to talking to the cops without your criminal defense attorney present, even if you are 100% innocent.
Here are some general guidelines if you are stopped by the police:
- You have the right to remain silent. Invoke this right!
- Be polite and calm during all of your interactions with law enforcement.
- Ask them if you are free to leave (they hate this question).
- Do not consent to any searches of your property or person.
- If they are insistent on questioning you, tell them you want your lawyer present.
- If you feel the police are acting unlawfully or inappropriately, do not try to fight it right then, or argue with them. This makes matters worse. I will fight that battle for you in court.
- Do not make any statements about the incident in an effort to talk your way out of an arrest.
If you or a loved one has been approached by the police for questioning in Okaloosa County, call Flaherty & Merrifield right away at (850) 243-6097 for a free consultation.