There are many in society who don’t respect the right of people to seek counsel or to remain silent, when confronted with law enforcement personnel. I’m John Zarych and I’m the owner of the Law Offices of John J. Zarych. I want to talk to you about things we do as criminal defense attorneys, to help people who are going through criminal investigations.

What is a Criminal Investigation?

It is any contact with law enforcement personnel whatsoever, that has any potential of bringing you into a criminal case. And what do we refer to as contact with law enforcement? The most obvious situation is when a law enforcement person, or other federal or state agencies, comes to your door and knocks on the door. If a law enforcement officer comes to your door and asks to speak with you, what should your response be? Our suggestion is that you tell them, “I will have my attorney contact you.” The law enforcement personnel may not like that response.

Even though they legally know that you are invoking your 5th Amendment right and your 6th Amendment right to counsel, they may not like it and try to do things to get you to talk to them. They may even threaten you. These threats can be subtle, or they may be very direct. The law enforcement officer may be very friendly and kind, or may be very aggressive. But be sure that you know, that they are not there to help you. They are there to make a case.

They’re coming to you because they have a suspicion that you have been engaged in some illegal activity. That suspicion may be completely unfounded. It may be on the word of a disaffected spouse. It may be on the word of a step-child, who resents you exercising discipline. It may be on the word of the neighbor, who has resentment against you for making a good living, for being a good parent, for keeping your house in a neat and orderly way, for being involved in the community with some prestige. False accusations can be made against you for any number of reasons, other than the fact that you’re guilty of an offense or criminal charge such as aggravated assault, sexual assault or drug charges.

People know from various sources that it is typically not wise to speak with police officers, when they’re contacting you initially in a case. The question is, knowing all that, why do people continue to talk to police officers without the advice of counsel? The reasons fall into two categories. One reason is that people often feel that they are smarter than police officers, or FBI agents, or Homeland Security agents. They feel that they can talk their way out of the situation, that they can dominate the conversation, that they can explain away some suspicion that may have brought the law enforcement officer to their home. That’s a big mistake.

These people have often been doing this work for 5, 10, 20, or 25 years. They’ve planned what they’re going to say, long before they come to your door. They know how to ask questions in a manner, which will cause people to stumble, to stammer, to make mistakes, to even say things that aren’t true. In most cases, the police are wearing a recording device. They’re allowed to wear a recording device. And even though you may be wise enough not to make statements that are plainly incriminating, you may make a number of statements that could really hurt you badly if played later in front of a jury.

Another motivation for people trying to talk to police, is to try to placate the police. To try to make them like you. To try to make them not be so angry with you, or upset with you. You may be afraid that if you don’t talk to police, they will be so angry with you that they will arrest you when they otherwise would not. I can assure you from experience, that there are very few defendants who can successfully handle a police interrogation without counsel.

Rely on Proper Criminal Defense Counsel

Trying to handle yourself safely in a police interview, is like trying to do your own brain surgery. It typically won’t work out very well. You don’t lose anything by telling the police that you will have your attorney contact them to do an interview. You may be willing to talk to the police because you have valuable documents or other information that can help the police understand, that you are in fact not guilty. It is always the case that is better to have your attorney present that information to police, in a structured and orderly way. And also in a way, that prevents it from being used against you.

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Police are often trained, either formally, or informally, by watching other police officers to create a sense of hopelessness and confusion in a criminal defendant. They assume this defendant is guilty for any number of reasons. When in many cases the defendant is not guilty of anything at all. Don’t waive your right to counsel and put yourself at the center of one of those improper and mistaken prosecutions.

The criminal lawyers of the Law Offices of John J. Zarych have over 45 years of experience handling a variety of misdemeanor and felony charges on behalf of adults and juveniles in Atlantic County, Cape May County, and more. To set up a free, confidential legal consultation, call our law offices at (609) 616-4956 today.  Se habla español.