5 Expert Tips For Talking To The Police, and A Bonus 6th That Will Blow Your Mind!

The police want to talk to you. Maybe they’ve called you. Maybe they’ve stopped by your house. Maybe they’ve even pulled you over and arrested you for DUI. What are you going to do?

Sounds like a tricky situation? Not if you take this splendid advice. Utilize these pro tips and never worry again.

Tip 1: Don’t talk to the police.

Sure, they’re being nice. They just want you to come down to the station “to clarify some things” or answer some questions to “make sure you’re o.k. to drive tonight.”  That’s all totally legit as they’d never lie to you, but the smart money says you should just shut up and not help them out (because if you talk, you will).

Tip 2: Don’t talk to the police.

They want your name and identification? Fine. Give it to them.  They want to know where you were last night or how many dead people are in your crawl space? Just a thought, but maybe you shouldn’t tell them.

I know it sounds simple, but they’re not just going to come out and ask why 41 kilos of crank are in your pants. Plus, they’re not going to believe you when you say they’re not your pants. So, maybe it’s not best to walk down the path to certain confession. Don’t start talking to them no matter what they tell you they want to know.

Tip 3:  Don’t talk to the police.

In case you missed the first two tips, here’s the fail-safe third one. Try it some time. Lawyer up, shut up.

You might want to start writing these down. It’s getting complicated.

Tip 4: Don’t talk to the police.

Have you ever walked into a place you’ve never been, in a city you’ve never seen and been struck with an eerie feeling of familiarity?  You know you’ve never been there, but it’s too familiar for you to have not experienced it before?  Some call that Déjà vu. I call that Tip 4. Why have you even read this far? Do you not get the point?

Tip 5: Don’t talk to the police.

If you can just go explain yourself you can talk them out of charging you with that murder rap, right? 5 minutes of your slick tongue and they’ll realize you didn’t kill him. Or if you did you did it in self defense.  There had to be a great reason. He’s not dead for no reason, right?

Let’s be honest, there are times when you might be able to talk yourself out of something. It’s happened.

Not to you, though. You don’t know what the police know. You don’t know what information they’re really after.  Unless you’ve dealt with the police often enough to become fearless around them, you’re out matched. Just don’t.

BONUS Tip 6: Hire a lawyer. Let them talk to the police.

You didn’t pay for 6 tips, but I’m going to give you one anyway.  That’s the kind of guy I am. I’m a giver.

It’s a two-part tip, too.

Part 1 of Tip 6: Just don’t talk to the damn police already.

Part 2 of Tip 6: If you’re determined to talk to the police, hire a lawyer to sort it all out for you.

If you enjoyed these tips, be on the lookout for my next post, “The 6 effective legal tips most often ignored (And the 6th tip is a two-part shocker)!”

Ponderings on Possession, Part Two.

I’ve struggled with Windypundit’s possession post.  If you’re not keeping pace, last week he brought up an interesting scenario (or two) resulting in people innocently going about their business but somehow obtaining items it’s illegal to possess. I took a stab at giving what I thought would be decent advice based on the scenarios presented (and also tried to explain the reasoning).

It wasn’t particularly easy, but many things in the world of criminal defense aren’t.

The shame of Draughn’s legal problems isn’t really the absurdity of possession crimes, though. While the hypotheticals do a great job highlighting that absurdity, the root of their difficulty is in a  couple of much more pervasive aspects of the system. Continue reading “Ponderings on Possession, Part Two.”

Ponderings on Possession.

Mark Draughn’s “Windypundit” blog is one of my regular reads. He’s somehow found the magic ability to post both frequent and frequently interesting new thoughts.  Today he posted an interesting hypothetical regarding possession of contraband:

To make it more concrete, suppose I’m walking down the street, minding my own business, when a stranger confronts me, thrusts a duffle bag into my hands, and runs away. When I open a duffle bag, I find a tightly wrapped kilo of cocaine, a pile of child pornography, and a MAC-10 submachinegun. As I look up, I notice several police officers coming down the street, obviously searching for someone or something. They haven’t noticed me yet. What should I do next?

Well, then. What do you do?

From a strictly legal standpoint Continue reading “Ponderings on Possession.”

…But The Problem Isn’t Plea Bargaining.

Earlier this week somebody forwarded me the Economist article on eliminating plea bargaining.  Like most mainstream suggestions on how to “fix” the system I ignored it because… well, because I don’t care what the Economist has to say about criminal law.  I don’t think that’s unreasonable.
Continue reading “…But The Problem Isn’t Plea Bargaining.”

You Can’t Turn Over Police Reports You Haven’t Written.

Between pondering how the courthouse bathrooms were trashed within 10 minutes of the place opening, and hoping that the cooler temps mean we’ll see less than 80 people shot in the city this weekend, I managed to come across a great post on Simple Justice.  The post was Mr. Greefield’s ruminations on the pervasive practice of prosecutors disclosing evidence on the eve of trial.  By “eve of trial” I mean years after they were ordered to disclose it.

If you’re unfamiliar, this happens all the time. It happens with such frequency that it’s not even surprising… to the judges.  By-and-large, judges may act frustrated with the practice, but nothing ever really happens about it.  Greenfield’s post, titled “When the Judge Says ‘Meh'” sums it up better than I ever could:

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This would be an excellent place to point out the irony that the prosecution puts a person on trial for violating the law, while it simultaneously violates the law, but that only plays to the naïve. Reality is that we, the players in the system, both know this and live with this all the time. We have for as long as I’ve practiced law.
The prosecution holds a special place in the system, a combination of low expectations of competence and efficacy, and facile excuses for its neglect and failures.  They are the systems saviors, and while any defendant or defense lawyer would be led out of the courtroom in cuffs if we did a fraction of what the prosecution does regularly, they get a free pass.


You can spend years getting ready for a trial, develop a great theory, work towards gathering and presenting evidence and at the last second a prosecutor turns over something new (to you, of course, not them) that you’re neither expecting nor ready for.

To quote Mr. Greenfield, the judge says “Meh.” It never seems to matter.

In the past year, I’ve twice had cases set for trial and, within days of the trial date the prosecutor turned over police reports.  Obviously that’s not new.

What is new is that in both of those cases the police reports had not even been written until a year after the offense.  In one of the cases, the prosecutor talked to the cop and told him to write a report. Of course, the report was directed at defeating the motion to suppress arrest that was headed for an evidentiary hearing.  Nothing shady about that, right?

In the other case, the prosecutor didn’t even know the cops had info they “hadn’t gotten around” to writing up in a report.

So, you’re about to go to trial, the prosecutor was ordered to get you any and all evidence he intends to use at trial over a year ago, all the decisions you and your client have made to this point are based on the evidence that you had been given, and now you are getting police reports that were written only because your client is contesting the charges against him.  What happens now?

You’re outraged. You’re shocked. You’re asking for the “new” evidence to get barred. You’re asking for a continuance.

The judge, though? What’s the judge say? Mr. Greenfield nailed it.

Just how the system is supposed to work. If it isn’t, then why does it?