Do Not Talk to the Police, FBI, or Other Law Enforcement
It is not uncommon for police or other law enforcement to visit the residence of a suspect, sometimes with little more than a mere suspicion of wrongdoing.
If the police want to talk to you, you are already in trouble and anything you say can just make things worse.
While an arrest warrant is normally required in Michigan for the police to arrest someone in their home (without “exigent circumstances” or some other recognized warrant exception), the police may try to lure a person out of the residence to make an arrest or for the purposes of creating an opportunity to ask questions. This type of police conduct may be attacked later, but it may lead to the suspect attempting to “talk” his way out of the arrest. As smart as a person is, even when totally innocent, the attempt to “talk” oneself out of suspicion always, always backfires. As we all know, people hear what they want to hear. Police want the suspect to be guilty and hear everything that is said with that bias. Even “I didn’t do it” comes out sounding suspicious, argumentative or defensive.
Most Suspects End up Being Witnesses Against Themselves
Follow these rules if confronted at home by law enforcement: (1) Never talk to the police, (2) never come out of your house to talk with the police, and (3) See Rule #1 (never talk to the police). If you are arrested, immediately ask to speak with a lawyer. This advice will be repeated almost verbatim in the section below on post-arrest advice because it bears repeating many times. Unfortunately, whether through foolishness or a mistaken belief that they can “talk” oneself out of an arrest, way too many people ignore this advice. The best phrase you can possibly use is, “I demand a lawyer and I invoke my right to remain silent under the 5th Amendment.”
If you are stopped while driving by the police and the police intent to arrest you, the rules are the same, with a few extra wrinkles. Again, while you must accurately identify yourself to police, you do not have to talk about the reason for the stop, where you are going, or your “status” (unless you are on parole or probation). You do not have to say anything and probably should not. Most vehicle stops in Michigan are for minor traffic offenses, in which case you should accept the ticket without comment. When you hire an attorney to get rid of the points for you later, it is always easiest to help those who are the least memorable to the police officer.
Michigan DUI (Drunk Driving) Traffic Stop
Even with a DUI, OWI or DWI, you only have to identify yourself and show proof of registration and insurance. Do not talk about anything else, including what you had to drink, where you are coming from, where you think you are, or anything else. No matter what the police officer says to you, you do not have to take field sobriety tests or field preliminary alcohol screening tests (PBT). In almost all cases, the officer will tell you that if you perform the field sobriety tests and do well, they will let you go home. This is an outright lie and the tests are designed to result in a “failure.” If arrested, you should probably participate in the breath test back at the station, but say nothing more. Do not grant the police permission to search your car (though they may after you are arrested anyway). It is amazing that in almost all cases where someone has something they do not want to be discovered, they give the police permission to search because of some overriding compulsion to be cooperative. They figure that if they are cooperative, maybe the police will let them go. Although this logic may seem sound in the heat of traffic stop, it clearly makes no sense and it never works out that way. Above all, do not let the police bully, trick, or shame you into making any statement…even a denial. No matter what you say, it will be used against you.
Secret Recordings Are Permissible and Admissible.
In Michigan, the police can secretly record your conversation while you’re in custody or in a police car, even without your permission or knowledge. One of the oldest tricks in the book for police is to leave two or more suspects “alone” in a police car or interrogation room, and then record the inevitable incriminating conversation between the defendants. I’ve had clients who have talked their way right into prison in situations like these, even when the cops had little other evidence to use. Probably 2 out of every 3 cases LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. is retained on, the prosecutor uses the defendant’s statement as evidence against him or her. Frequently, this evidence is the best evidence the prosecutor has.
Your statements made in telephone conversations and on voicemails can be used against you in court just like the police recording of your statements while in custody. It does not matter that you are unaware you are being recorded or that you do not give permission. Do not make statements over the phone, in emails, texts, or any other way of transmitting or recording a statement. Again, ask for a lawyer immediately if you’re being questioned or you’re arrested. If you receive a telephone call from a police officer or a visit to your home, your next move should be to meet with a highly experienced, highly rated Michigan Criminal Defense Attorney. If you are in custody and call home, a lawyer, or a friend, you can bet that your conversation from the jail or detention area is being recorded and checked later for evidence.
Detectives are Expert Interrogators
The best detectives are expert talkers, seem friendly and helpful, and are, essentially, con artists. They can get things out of a suspect before he or she knows what’s happened. In many cases, how something is said is often used against a person even when what is said may not have evidentiary value. The police can claim a suspect was nervous, defensive or hostile. Even when the suspect was acting normally, there is no way to contradict the officer’s alleged “observations.” By the way, there is no such thing as an “off-the-record” conversation with the police. If you’re free to go at any time, they don’t even have to advise you of your Miranda Rights. Miranda Rights do not have to be given when an arrest is made despite popular understanding and belief. No matter how likable or sympathetic an officer may seem, his job is to get as much evidence against a suspect as possible. Police do not try to find the truth after there is a suspect, at that point their sole focus is finding evidence.
Inmates sell other inmates’ statements to the cops for leniency in their own case. In fact, inmates trade in false confessions to law enforcement to get more lenient treatment on a regular basis. Your statements to another inmate are definitely admissible in court against you. If you are in custody, do not talk to anyone. Do not give someone the opportunity to lie about you in order to get more favorable treatment. Just in case you think you are housed with someone who seems trustworthy, even the best of people, when desperate, are susceptible to police suggestions that a little information on another suspect can be helpful to their case.
The final rule to walk away from this blog with: Do not talk to anyone except your lawyer.
A Top Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Protect You
If you are being accused of a felony or misdemeanor case in state or federal court, you need an experienced, successful, and respected criminal defense attorney to assist you. The Defense Team with LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. has decades of experience successfully representing clients charged with criminal offenses.
Call us today at (248) 263-6800 for a free consultation, or complete a Request for Assistance Form and we will contact you promptly.