Whenever you speak with the police, it's important to focus on protecting your rights. To that end, the wise move is to always consult with a criminal defense lawyer before you answer even one question. You might wonder why this is necessary, especially if you're not a suspect. Here is why you always want a criminal defense attorney present before talking to the cops.
Avoiding Criminal Exposure
The police like to represent themselves as the good guys in all of their conversations. After all, they're pillars of the community. Whenever they want to talk with you, they want you to know that you're doing your part as a good citizen.
If you're so inclined, there's nothing wrong with helping the cops by answering their questions. Just do not risk it without counsel there to advise you.
The main risk is criminal exposure. When a criminal defense lawyer talks about exposure, they mean the risk that the cops could charge you with an offense. The police could charge you because they think you're a suspect. Similarly, they could decide that a witness is obstructing their investigation and charge them for that crime.
Never assume the cops are playing it straight when they ask to interview you. Cops lie.
Worse, American courts have long supported lying to suspects as a police technique. For example, the cops can tell you that you're a witness and not a suspect. They can even lie about whether they have evidence or not just to see what you say. Cops can lie about what other people have told them, too. Also, the myth that an undercover cop has to tell you that they're law enforcement is garbage.
How you answer the cops' questions is just as important as the fact that you're answering them. A criminal defense attorney will better understand the line of questioning and where it's likely going. They can tell you if you should answer the question at all and what to say if you do answer.
Also, a criminal defense lawyer will have more confidence in shutting down a line of questioning. If they don't like a question, they can intervene and tell the cops that their client won't answer it. Cops are far more likely to respect a lawyer shutting them down than an average person. If the police want answers so badly, they're welcome to take the matter before a judge. At that point, your attorney may instruct you to invoke your right to remain silent to avoid self-incrimination.
Contact a local criminal defense attorney to learn more.