What To Do If Contacted By Police in DC
Being contacted by law enforcement can be intimidating, even if you are not the subject of their investigation. With this in mind, the following is information on what you should know regarding contact with police, and how you can ensure that your rights are protected throughout the investigation process. For more specific information call and schedule consultation with a DC criminal defense attorney.
Contacting An Attorney
It’s always a good idea to talk to a lawyer first when a person is unsure about why police might be contacting them. Problems can arise whenever someone speaks to any law enforcement, whether it is local police, FBI, Secret Service, Federal Protection Bureau, or anyone who can investigate the person for any wrong doing. Even if the police tell you that you are not a suspect, or they tell you they just want to hear their side of the story, anything you say can be used as evidence against you.
A person has the potential to incriminate themselves or accidentally give the police information that could end up hurting them at a later time. Even when a person does not think they have done anything wrong, or they might simply be trying to help, it’s best to understand their rights and obligations. The individual needs to fully understand problems that could arise if they decide to provide information or speak with investigators or police officers.
Examples of When Contacting An Attorney Becomes More Important
As an example, if the police tell someone that they may be a witness to a crime, he or she has no idea whether the police are actually telling the truth. The police are allowed to trick people into giving up information, and don’t necessarily need to tell someone that they might actually be a suspect.
The police might tell a person that they are a witness and the police needs their help solving a crime. In fact, the person might actually be the suspect they believe committed the crime. Speaking with a lawyer before providing any information to any law enforcement investigators is a good idea so that the person doesn’t expose themselves to avoidable legal consequences.
Potential Concerns Regarding Contact With Police
One concern for individuals contacted by police for information, who are not at that moment a target of the investigation, is that the individual could be become a target of an investigation in the future. The person could be a person of interest and their status could potentially change at a later date; they could start off as a witness and later become an accomplice. The person could be investigated for assisting in a crime and end up being investigated for being the sole or main perpetrator of a crime. A person who is being investigated doesn’t have all the information available to be able to make a decision as to where they stand with a police officer for a federal investigation.
Does Asking To Have An Attorney Present When Talking to Law Enforcement Demonstrate Unwillingness to Cooperate?
A person should not believe officers who tell them that getting a lawyer means they must have done something wrong and they should not believe officers who imply that a situation isn’t serious. Any time police officers try to question a person, the situation is serious and the person is at risk of incriminating themselves. An individual should not believe that asking to speak to a lawyer or having a lawyer present during questioning can be considered suspicious or evidence of guilt. It is never a demonstration of bad faith and is always the first piece of advice an attorney gives to anyone who is contacted by the police.
As a result, a person should tell the police officers doing the questioning that they immediately cease questioning and ask to speak with a lawyer before answering any more questions. By telling the police officer that they want a lawyer present or want to talk to a lawyer before answering any questions, that person has protected themselves by eliminating the possibility that that officer can get information that can be used against them or incriminate them at a later date.
Our Approach to These Situations
When an individual reaches out to me to discuss being contacted by the authorities, I tell them that they should never have any direct communication with investigators before first talking to the attorney. It is better for an attorney to handle contact with the police first because a lawyer can better explore the police’s true intentions, while protecting the client from incriminating himself. An attorney can discuss with clients the risks and benefits of cooperating with police and can test the waters first before their client does anything that could put him at a legal disadvantage later.