Because someone is innocent, they may wave their Fifth Amendment right to silence, talking to police before requesting and having a lawyer be present at their questioning. This willingness to be cooperative is seldom a good idea because it can put innocents at risk of being charged for a crime.
This is largely because innocence is not transparent. People really have no way to know whether someone has something to hide, and studies show that the more an innocent person denies involvement in a police matter the guiltier they seem. If police are the least bit suspicious, research also shows that investigators tend to focus on information that confirms their beliefs, ignoring exonerating evidence which can only spell trouble for anyone that is questioned by police.
Typically, criminal defense attorneys are hired after someone is arrested or charged with a crime, but if you believe you could be in trouble or the police are being accusatory, an attorney may be able to prevent questioning from escalating to an arrest or criminal charges.
“You’re not under arrest, we just want to ask you a few questions”
If the police call you or visit you saying “you’re not under arrest, we just want to ask you a few questions”, it should raise a red flag because they may be connecting you to a crime.
The knee jerk reaction, especially if you are innocent, is to cooperate fully in order to clear your name. However, if you have been contacted, keep in mind the police are likely already suspicious and may even have evidence or proof – valid or not – to back up their claims. Anything you say at this point may be used against you to build their case. It is always in your best interest to say you would like to have an attorney present before any questioning.
When you start talking to police, many things can go wrong…
You may admit something that you think is innocuous, but is illegal, such as inadvertently being an accessory to a crime by simply being present, or saying that you did something in self-defense that can be construed otherwise.
It may be that you initially say something, only to correct it when you’ve had more time to think, which often comes across as lies to police who are scrutinizing every word that you say.
You might feel that your explanation makes perfect sense, but something you say may be misunderstood or taken the wrong way. Remember, every person including police officers come from varied backgrounds and have formed different ways of looking at the world. If something you say or the way that you are acting doesn’t compute, it can work against you.
Police Want to Question You?
Contact an Experienced Wisconsin Criminal Defense Lawyer
While many think that their innocence will carry the day, and that they will only look guilty if they are unwilling to cooperate, the reality is that police often get it wrong. If you are being asked to answer questions by police regarding a crime, whether you are innocent or not, it is advisable to use your right to silence and get an attorney. Contact the Waukesha criminal defense lawyers of Andrew C. Ladd for immediate assistance at 262-542-3900.