Thoughts from a Raleigh Criminal Lawyer: Should I talk to police

I often get this question from clients or potential clients: The police are investigating a crime.  They want to talk to me.  They’ve called my house, asking me to go down to the police.  I’ve got nothing to hide.  Should I go down to talk to police.

The answer is general no.

I don’t care whether you were in Timbuktu when the crime happened. You have no obligation to talk to police without a criminal lawyer present. And there is no way that you should talk to police without a lawyer present.

You should never lie to police.  In fact, lying to FBI agents is a federal crime, and giving a fake name to a police officer in North Carolina is a misdemeanor.

But you should not talk to police unless you are reporting a crime.  If you’re under investigation, don’t talk to police.

Now, you may be asking: I’ve got nothing to hide. Why shouldn’t I talk to the police?  The answer is that the police don’t know you didn’t do the crime.  They’re looking for suspects. And one way the look for suspects is to question people repeatedly until they rule them out.

One of the ways they trap people is by having them answer questions over and over again, and pointing out discrepancies in the stories.  Because no one tells a story the same way every time, police are trained at picking out differences between the first time you told a story and the second time you told the story.  And when they ask you a third time… well they’re just trying to see whether you tell it a different way.

Even if you’re innocent as the sky is blue, you should always talk to police with your lawyer present. And that’s because usually police don’t have a video, they don’t have blood samples, they don’t have DNA, and so they’re looking for inconsistencies in stories to show to a jury that you were lying, or untruthful.

And if you did do the crime.  If you happen to be the actual perpetrator.  Well then you definitely don’t want to talk to police.  You want to keep your mouth shut.

Most of all: you want to get a criminal lawyer.  You want to call (919) 352-9411.

Police are not interested in finding the innocent, they’re interested in finding the guilty, and they’re interested in having a jury sort it out.  And you don’t want to be the guy sitting in the defendant’s chair as 12 citizens in a box decide whether you’re guilty or not.

Damon Chetson

Damon Chetson is a Board Certified Specialist in State and Federal Criminal Law. He represents people charged with serious and minor offenses in Raleigh, Wake County, and the Eastern District of North Carolina. Call (919) 352-9411.