Should I Speak to a Detective that has Called to Question Me?

Indianapolis Criminal Defense Attorney Blog:  Should I Speak to a Detective if they Call to Question Me?

It is a question our office receives all the time.  Person calls and says, “A detective called me and wants to ask me some questions about a situation, and I don’t know how I should respond.”  In almost all circumstances you should respond by speaking to an attorney first. In this blog the Indianapolis Criminal Defense Attorneys at Banks & Brower take a closer look at this question.
The first and most important thing for any attorney to determine is are you the target of the investigation.  If you are just a fact witness that played no role in the crime being investigated, then it may be okay for you to cooperate.  However, an attorney should evaluate your situation first.  In most instances an attorney can speak with an investigator and get a pretty good idea if you are a target of an investigation.  Just because you don’t think you played a role in the crime being investigated, is not enough.  Sometimes, a person can be charged as an accomplice to a criminal charge with very little evidence that they played an active role.

The Second category of client we encounter is the innocent client that is wrongfully the target of the investigation.  In this instance most people think, “I didn’t do anything wrong, I will just go speak to the detective and set the record straight.”  Unfortunately, it is not that simple.  If a detective feels you are the person that committed a crime, even if you didn’t do it, they will in many instances come after you very hard.  What most people don’t know, is that the police are allowed to, and many times do lie.  An innocent person being investigated for a theft can go in to an interview with a detective and proclaim their innocence to only have the detective tell them, “look, we have video and we saw you steal the equipment, if you just come clean then things will go a lot easier for you.”  The translation of this statement should be, “look I don’t have any evidence that you did this, but I’m going to tell you that I do, so I can trick you into confessing and then use your statement to convict you.”  No matter how tough or smart you are, a good detective can use these simple misleading tactics to get you to admit to something you did not do.  In studies of wrongfully convicted individuals, it was determined that 23% of the cases involved false confessions.  This is especially true in younger defendants.  For 18 to 39 year olds nearly 30% of wrongful convictions was, in part, tied to a false confession.  See http://courses2.cit.cornell.edu/sociallaw/student_projects/FalseConfessions.html for a detailed discussion of false confessions.  If you fall into the category of an innocent person wrongfully accused, you should seek the counsel of an attorney.  The attorney MAY decide it is in your interest to cooperate with law enforcement, but, if they do, they will be present with you to protect you from misleading tactics.  For example, if the police officer claims to have surveillance video of the crime, the defense attorney can insist on seeing the video before allowing you to answer any questions about it.  Where the investigator is lying about the video, this response will quickly frustrate him and require him to use honest interrogation techniques.
The last category of client we see with this situation is the one who has some degree of responsibility in the crime and the detective has asked for them to come in for a statement.  Again, it is important to exercise your absolute right to remain silent and to contact an attorney.  In this situation the attorney will evaluate your situation and your degree of responsibility and advise you accordingly.  This may include maintaining your right to remain silent and make no statement, to reaching an agreement with the prosecution to provide information in the investigation in return for more favorable treatment, or some other legal strategy.  Either way, exercising your right to an attorney is vital in this situation.

It is important to remember you ALWAYS maintain your right to remain silent and your right to an attorney.  Even if you have begun giving a statement, you can stop it at any time.  You are not required to give a statement under any circumstance.  In all instances it is a very good idea to consult with a criminal defense attorney to have your particular situation analyzed.
Banks & Brower is a law firm on the north side of Indianapolis, practicing criminal defense throughout Indiana including, Marion, Hamilton, Boone, Hendricks, Johnson, and Hancock counties.  You can reach the Indianapolis Criminal Defense Attorneys at Banks & Brower for a free evaluation of your situation at 317-870-0019, we take calls 24 hours a day.