Talking to the police about an incident can be nerve wracking even if you had nothing at all to do with a crime under investigation. After all, one of the primary missions of the police is to investigate crimes and gather evidence that will support a successful prosecution of those believed to be responsible, and we all know that the police get it wrong on many occasions. But is talking to the police alone – meaning without an attorney to represent you – a smart idea, even if you believe are innocent of the crime under investigation?
It is your Fifth Amendment right to refuse to talk to the police without an attorney, regardless of whether you have been placed under arrest or read your rights. And, yet, many people are hesitant to exercise that right because they believe they are innocent and thus safe and/or that asking for a lawyer will make them appear guilty. Here are a few reasons why this can be a highly risky approach.
You Might Be Guilty of a Different Crime
Remember, the police are not required to tell you the full nature of what crimes they are investigating, and they are free to pursue leads on crimes other than the one you think they are currently investigating. Thus, if the police are questioning about a narcotics transaction that you believe that you have no connection to, you might still provide the police with information (e.g. where you were on a given night) which unwittingly connects you to a different crime that the police may be investigating.
You Might Be Guilty as an Accomplice or Conspirator
Many people are under the misconception that if they themselves were not the perpetrator of a crime then they cannot be guilty of that crime, but that is incorrect. If a person assists or encourages a criminal act in any way (e.g. providing information to another that facilitates a crime, or merely driving another person to a location), they can be just as guilty of the crime as the perpetrator based on the theory of accomplice liability. Likewise, if you make an agreement with another person to commit a crime, but do not actually go through with it, you can be guilty of the crime of conspiracy. By providing details to the police without a lawyer present, you might be very unpleasantly surprised to find yourself charged as an accomplice or a conspirator.
You Cannot Be Penalized For Exercising Your Right to an Attorney
Although the police might want you to think that asking for an attorney in all questioning makes you look guilty, this is simply a ploy to attempt to get you to give up your constitutional right to an attorney. The police cannot violate your constitutional rights but they can attempt to get you to waive your rights, but that only helps them, not you. A judge and jury will not be permitted to penalize you for exercising your right to an attorney, and by exercising that right, you may avoid ever having to come before a criminal court in the first place.
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At The Martin Law Firm, P.C., in Montgomery County, we are committed to defending your rights. Call us today for a free consultation with a PA criminal defense attorney today regarding your DUI arrest.