Most of my criminal defense consultations start the same way: the prospective client was arrested, given a citation and a court date, or they were served with an indictment (and then usually arrested). They sound something like “Justin, I got a ticket for drunk driving and I was taken to jail” or “Justin, I got this summons to court next week.”
A few of my consultations begin even before that. They sound more like this: “Justin, I got a call from a police detective last night asking me to come in and talk to him/her. What should I do?” Should I talk to the Police?
In general, people think there is only one response – to go talk to them.
“Maybe it has nothing to do with me.” It does.
“Maybe they just need some information.” They do – whatever they can use against you.
“Maybe they don’t know anything.” They do.
“Maybe I can talk my way out of this.” You can’t.
I have one rule to keep in mind – if you did not call them, DO NOT TALK TO THE POLICE.
“But don’t I have to talk to the police when they ask me to?” NO. Unless they have arrested you, any time you talk to the police it is considered voluntary. (If they order to you stay and answer basic “who are you?” questions, comply. Don’t answer anything else other than “who are you?” questions. We can fight over the detention later.)
If a cop calls me to come in, what should I do then?
(1) Tell the officer that you do not speak to the police without a lawyer present. Politely ask the officer for his/her name, what police department he/she works for, and for a phone number. He/She will probably try to tell you that asking for a lawyer makes you sound guilty. Politely tell the officer that you are finished speaking with him/her and disconnect the call. Write down the officer’s name, department, and phone number.
(2) Contact a lawyer to get an appointment as soon as possible. McMullen Law Office, LLC‘s phone number allows you to speak to or leave a message for Attorney Justin M. McMullen directly – not a paralegal or a secretary – who will schedule a face-to-face meeting with you.
Any conversation where you are looking to a lawyer for legal advice is confidential. That means that the lawyer cannot disclose the nature or content of your conversation without risking their license to practice law.
(3) DO NOT speak to anyone, other than a lawyer, about why you think the police are calling you. Your conversations with others are not confidential. This includes your family. Your conversations can easily be misunderstood and turned into a “confession” by an aggressive police officer.
(4) Once you have hired a lawyer, let the lawyer speak to the officer and to the prosecutor, if necessary.
While the content of this post will cover most situations, every legal matter is different. Please call McMullen Law Office, LLC at 937-985-2564 if you have any questions about what to do if an officer contacts you in the Miami Valley.