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)!”

I’d Rather Be Good Than Lucky.

I once represented a kid who did dumb kid stuff. I still represent kids who do dumb kid stuff, but this kid was different. He did some really dumb kid stuff. Felony dumb.  Like too many of these dumb-kid felony stories, this one involved a kid from a decent home in a decent neighborhood.  He’d clearly watched Scarface after drinking one too many Red Bulls and thought that the only way out of the “mean” suburbs was his balls and his word.

And his drugs, obviously.

He tried to set himself apart in the marketplace with a unique distribution strategy. He was the “Peapod” of narcotics.  He offered a personal delivery Continue reading “I’d Rather Be Good Than Lucky.”

Honoring Columbus Day: Can I get a mug shot?

Light the tree, set off the fireworks and pass out the candy… it’s Columbus Day in America!  Today is more than just the day we get to watch Bears/Lions on Monday Night Football.  In Canada, of course, they mistakenly call today Canadian Thanksgiving.  Although, we don’t really care what they’re doing up in America’s Hat.  As I’ve already explained, Canada is backwards.  I guess this Thanksgiving/Columbus day mix-up is just Exhibit #2 to that effect. Continue reading “Honoring Columbus Day: Can I get a mug shot?”

Three dumb things people say to the police… all the time.

So, you’re sitting in my office and you’re mad that you got a ticket or were arrested for DUI or are charged with murder. You’re going to fight this thing all the way. You’re mad.  They never read your your rights.  They never showed you the radar.  If they didn’t do that, you must be “not” guilty, right?

For whatever reason, there seem to be a large number of people who, between the time they’ve last talked to the cops and the time they walk into my door, have convinced themselves they’re not guilty.  That’s just fine.  If you want to take the best shot at winning at trial, though, there are some things you probably said to the police that you shouldn’t have.  Those things are going to make it really hard for a judge or jury to see just how not guilty you really are:

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When the police first pulled you over or started to talk to you: “Yes”.

Do you know how fast you were going? “Yes.”  Do you know why we’re at your house with this warrant looking for a dead body? “Yes.” Do you have any idea why the neighbor says you were swimming naked in his pool at night and creeping out the entire neighborhood? “Yes.”

When the police ask those initial questions, they obviously know something. They’re not going to tell you what it is, but they’re going to try to get you to talk about it. After all, you may “know things only the killer would know.”  If you answer “yes” to any of these initial questions, it’s going to start a dialogue- a dialogue that’s only going to get harder to stop.

Probably the only worse answer than “yes” would be to lie.  Like, telling an officer at a traffic stop that you were going 47 when his radar says you were going 89.  Lies are either going to frustrate the officer or (in a more serious case) make you look even more guilty when you’re busted.

A better thing might be to say, “I’d like to talk to a lawyer before I answer any of your questions.”  Nobody seems to ever believe me on that, though. It’s sort-of a free country, I suppose.  You go ahead and do what you want.

When they want to search: “Yes”

When it comes to car searches, this is almost always a follow-up to “do you have anything you shouldn’t in the car?”  Of course, if that’s what happened you must have skipped the section above and either lied (hoping he’s not smart enough to know all the drugs are “hidden” in the trunk of your Chevy Vega), or answered “yes”.

So, now he wants to take a look. He’s asking you, and you don’t want to “look guilty” so you’re going to let him search.

Look, I know it seems a bit extreme, but no police officer is ever searching my car, house, body or other property with my consent. I have nothing to hide- just like you (except for those apples you’re illegally smuggling into Canada), but my stuff is nobody’s business and I don’t care how they think that makes me look.  I’d be somewhat offended if they even asked.

Getting sucked into “not wanting to look guilty” is the best way to look absolutely guilty. Nothing says “this guy is probably guilty” like the weed the cop found in your pocket or the headless corpse in your crawl space.

If they ever ask to search, you can always tell them you’d like to talk to a lawyer about it first. Just saying.

When the police are interrogating you: “Yes”

You’re in some small room at the police station. The room is simple, without decor or anything but a small table and some chairs.  There’s one cop- maybe two.  They’ve read you your rights, and they’re asking you questions.  They want to know how long you had “beef” with the guy who was just found stuffed in the back of a burned-out AMC Gremlin down by the river.  “You’ve hated this guy since before that day at the Bieber concert, right?” They ask.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5nq3FHm6DZ0

Wait a minute. You’re in custody.  They read you your rights. They just told you that you had a right to an attorney.  They told you that they’d get you one before any questioning.

Now you’e sitting there, without having talked to a lawyer, and you’re about to agree that you didn’t like some guy that they found dead?

Brilliant idea, Einstein.  Especially if you didn’t kill the guy (or if you’re going to tell your lawyer you didn’t, anyway).

Just another crazy thought, but if you’re planning to contest the charges and try to avoid spending the rest of your life in prison, it might make sense to talk to a lawyer first. Probably.

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There you have it. You’re in my office. You want to fight this to the end. You’re mad that your rights have been violated. They can’t prove this case… except, of course, for the fact that you admit you knew why they were looking at you, let them search wherever they wanted and confessed after they read you your rights.

Can’t wait for your trial.

You matter less, Part III

I’m hoping that somebody somewhere steps up soon and explains this stuff to me.  Even as an attorney I’ve never understood, and I still don’t, why normal people- people like you and I- are the least important people in criminal law.  Break my stuff? That’s bad. Break the government’s stuff?  That’s really bad, right?  Steal my stuff? That’s bad. Steal from a corporate retailer, though? That’s somehow worse.

On that note, I came across this little gem the other day.  Like the first link above, it talks about damaging property:

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(720 ILCS 5/21-1) (from Ch. 38, par. 21-1)

Sec. 21-1. Criminal damage to property.
(a) A person commits criminal damage to property when he or she: (1) knowingly damages any property of another…
* * *
(d) Sentence.
(1) A violation of subsection (a) shall have the following penalties
* * *
(B) A violation of paragraph (1), (2), (3), (5), or (6) is a Class A misdemeanor when the damage to the property does not exceed $300.
C) A violation of paragraph (1), (2), (3),(5), or (6) is a Class 4 felony when the damage to property does not exceed $300 and the damage occurs to property of a school or place of worship or to farm equipment or immovable items of agricultural production, including but not limited to grain elevators, grain bins, and barns or property which memorializes or honors an individual or group of police officers, fire fighters, members of the United States Armed Forces, National Guard, or veterans…
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For those arm-chair attorneys not scoring at home, I went ahead and highlighted the nonsense part: the part where if somebody breaks your stuff it’s a misdemeanor.  Unless your stuff memorializes a cop or group of cops.  Then it’s a felony.

Continue reading “You matter less, Part III”