Tuesday, January 5, 2010

"THE POLICE ARE LOOKING FOR ME": WHEN YOU ARE A SUSPECT OR FEAR ARREST

You just got a phone call from your roommate. Some police officer showed up looking for you. As it happens, you actually do know why they want to talk. Maybe you were involved in a crime like a robbery, hit and run, shoplifting or drug deal. Maybe you sexted someone or downloaded other inappropriate sexual materials. Or maybe you didn’t actually commit a crime but are afraid the police might view you as an accessory. You can’t skip town and you can’t hide out forever. What can you do?

For starters, you should probably contact an attorney immediately. A competent attorney may provide invaluable guidance that helps prevent you from incriminating yourself, while staying within the bounds of the law. In limited cases, this advice can help prevent charges from ever being brought.

Now maybe you’ve made that appointment to get legal advice, but fear you may be arrested before you can step into the attorney’s office. Whatever you do, don’t talk to the police or anyone else about your situation. When confronted with an accusation, most people feel the need to explain or justify themselves. What may seem like a perfectly reasonable explanation to you, however, may be exactly the grounds needed by police to charge you with the crime. Even comments made to friends can be used against you later. Witness statements that you admitted a crime are not necessarily hearsay and can dig you in deeply.

If you are picked up and held for questioning or charged with a crime, tell the police that you do not wish to answer any questions without an attorney present. It is even more imperative that you not discuss the circumstances of the crime with police before you have seen an attorney. This, at times, may be difficult. The police can legally leave you sitting for hours in a cold room after you have refused to talk. Or they might make promises of leniency if you will only open up. It is in your best interest, however, not to start talking. The state has to prove you guilty of a crime beyond a reasonable doubt. Once you start talking, you may unwittingly remove any doubts about your guilt and severely limit the options your attorney has in defending you. And as to the promises of leniency, the police do not always have the final control over how you are charged or sentenced.

Due to the latest technology such as email, textng and Facebook, it is equally important that you not “talk” electronically. The state may be able to get copies of your text messages, email or Facebook account to see what you have posted. Likewise, they can get cell phone records and in some cases voicemail recordings. Any statements you make in these forums can come back to haunt you.

If you have questions about your situation, feel free to contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com

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