When the Police call, there’s only one thing for you to do
By Donna L. Ortlieb
Attorney at Law
When you find out that you are being investigated by law enforcement for possible involvement in criminal activity, what should you do? In fact, you have two options. Only one is the right choice. Let’s say you are contacted by a police investigator. That contact may be a telephone call to your home or workplace. Or, it may be a personal visit, in which case if you are not at home, the investigator will typically leave a card asking you to call. Many people’s gut reaction is to take or return that call. After all, wouldn’t anyone be curious to know what the police want to talk to me about? Or, if I have an idea what the call is about, isn’t it only a natural human reaction to want to explain myself and make the problem go away?
The short answer is “No.” Almost without exception, this is the wrong way to proceed. If you are the object of a police investigation, you should never attempt to “handle” the matter without first obtaining the advice of a qualified criminal defense attorney. Let’s look at why this is so important. Think about this: If the police are investigating a crime, and you are the object of their investigation, that is a clear indication that they believe you are somehow involved in the criminal activity. If they had enough evidence to make an arrest, they could obtain an arrest warrant and take you into custody. If they do not have enough evidence to support an arrest and prosecution, they hope to fill in the blanks by interviewing you. And they are very good at doing this.
When you talk to the police, over the telephone or in your own home or even at the police station, unless you are in a “custodial “ environment, the police do not have to read you your rights. This means that if you are not under arrest, not handcuffed and under guard, in other words if you are free to leave at any time, you need not be advised of your rights to remain silent or to have an attorney present during questioning. And, whatever you say can and, believe this, will be used against you in a court of law. Face it, who has more experience at this? You? Or the police?
Police are trained in the techniques of interrogation. They know how to win your confidence and get you to make incriminating statements, even if you are innocent! No matter how smart you may be, when you are questioned by law enforcement without a lawyer present, you are on their turf and they are way more clever at this than you are.
So just what can a qualified criminal defense attorney do for you? First, the attorney will “call off the dogs” by letting the police know that you are represented by counsel and will not speak to them without your attorney present. At this point they will stop trying to contact you, because they know the attorney will protect your rights and their tricks will not work. Unlike yourself, the attorney will be able to stay in touch with investigators and try to ascertain the status of the investigation against you. The attorney can explore with you the possible defenses you might raise if charges are actually filed against you by the district attorney. By intervening, the attorney may preserve whatever defenses you may have available to you.
But supposing the police decide they have enough evidence to proceed against you without your cooperation? An experience attorney can often arrange for a voluntary surrender. This saves you the embarrassment of being led out of your home or workplace in handcuffs in front of the whole world. It also allows the attorney to alert a bail bond agent to be present at the surrender, to secure your release if you are eligible for bail. The attorney can also advise you as to how to conduct yourself appropriately during the ongoing investigation, in order to avoid additional allegations. Finally, having an advocate on your side may give you some measure of peace of mind, just knowing someone is protecting your constitutional rights and, at the same time, laying the groundwork for your defense in the event you are charged with a crime.
The Law Offices of Donna L. Ortlieb handles criminal law matters in all southern California courts. We aggressively defend all types of criminal matters, including all felonies, all misdemeanors, drunk driving, domestic violence, burglaries , assaults, gang offenses, drug offenses, theft crimes, fraud, white-collar crime, juvenile crimes, sex offenses and probation violations. Toll Free 24 Hours: (877)505-6002 In Orange County: (714)505-6002 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.orange-county-criminal-lawyer.com