I had a client call me last week with a problem. Her nephew was being accused of assaulting a neighbor. There were no witnesses to the alleged event, so it was her nephew’s word against the word of the alleged victim. The reason that my client called was that the Police called the nephew and requested that he come in to the Police Station for an interview. My client wanted to know “Should my nephew go in for the interview.” My answer was a resounding “NO!”
Why not? Here is the problem. Chances are the reason that the Police want to interview someone is to “fill in the gaps” in their case. They hope that they can even get a confession. Why help them solidify their case? Something that you say can be misinterpreted and used against you.
You say “Maybe I can go in and ‘clear the air’ and the charges will not be pursued.” Well, that sounds nice, but, think about it. If the Police had enough to charge you without interviewing you, they would have done so already. The interview may be just what they need to complete their Statement of Charges.
There are exceptions to every rule. If you have an alibi witness, I am more likely to tell you to have the alibi witness talk to the Police than you. Or, I might recommend that you bring an attorney like me to any interview and that you let me set the rules for the interview. Of course, some charges are so ridiculous that I will let my client go in for an interview on his own. I had a client once, we will call him Mr. Mind, who was accused by a woman of coming through her television and harassing her dog. Somehow, when she went into the Police Station and filed these charges, the clerk accepted them without reading them and, suddenly, my client received a summons for Court. I could not justify charging Mr. Mind to go to Court on such a ridiculous charge. I called the State’s Attorney and the charges were soon dropped. However, if Mr. Mind had been asked to go down to the Police Station to answer a few questions, given the absurd charges, I might not have objected.
I had a dear friend who called me a few years back because he received a phone call from the Howard County Police Department. Apparently, a young lady in her twenties was going to therapy for sexual abuse and she now remembered that, when she was about four years old, she was fondled by a male staff member at the day care center she attended. The Police asked for the records of the day care center and my friend’s name was among the male staff members employed at that time. Without any further information, the Police now wanted to meet with my friend to see if he was a potential defendant. Naturally, my friend called me hysterical. His initial reaction was to rush down to the Police Station and vindicate himself. I told him to wait until I spoke to the investigating officer. When I called the Officer, I asked her if she had enough information to charge my friend. She said that she did not. So, I asked her “Then, give me one good reason why I should subject my client to your interrogation. If you can give me even one valid reason, I will reconsider.” The Officer’s response was telling. She said “I guess, if he was my client, I would tell him not to come in and speak with me.” That solved the issue. My client did not meet with the Officer and no further action was taken.
Going back to my client’s nephew, at the beginning of the post, I told him not to go in for questioning because, if the Police were ready to charge him with assault, they were going to do so. It turned out I was right- at the time the Police were calling him to come down, the arrest warrant had already been issued. The Police really wanted to arrest him at the Police Station and use anything he said against him. Instead, we can save his statements and defenses for trial, where they are most useful.
So, if you get a call from the Police asking for you to come in and discuss charges against you, here is my general rule- JUST SAY NO!!!!!
Of course, if you have any questions or need advice on any specific situation, please feel free to call me @ 410-4949-9944. Jeff