For the average person, realizing that the police appear to consider you a suspect in a crime is disconcerting at best. For most people, it is downright frightening. If you find yourself in that position, you need to have an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side to ensure that your rights are protected during the investigation stage and to defend you if you are eventually charged with a crime. Your initial reaction to that advice may be concern that hiring a criminal defense lawyer before being charged makes you appear guilty. While that concern is understandable, it is also unfounded. At the end of the day, protecting yourself is ultimately more important than appearances anyway.
Law Enforcement Investigation Tactics
When a law enforcement agency is charged with investigating a serious criminal offense, a detective is typically assigned to lead the investigation. There is a virtual ocean of difference in the experience and training a detective brings to an investigation and that a basic patrol officer might bring. Unless you happen to be a career criminal yourself, this puts you at a significant disadvantage if that detective wants to “talk” to you about a crime he/she is investigating. Keep in mind that a detective spends a substantial portion of his/her life questioning people. A detective is trained to elicit information from unwilling suspects. Moreover, law enforcement officers are allowed to lie to you in an attempt to get you to provide them with the information they seek. The bottom line is that allowing yourself to be questioned by a detective without an attorney present is simply not smart.
But I’m Innocent! Why Should I Worry about Talking to the Police?
One of the most common reasons people give for speaking to the police without first consulting an attorney is that they believed the fact that they were innocent meant that there could be no harm in talking to the police. All too often, these people are now sitting in a jail cell after being charged with the crime for which they claim they are not guilty. The truth of the matter is that your innocence is not an absolute shield. Innocent people are charged with crimes all the time – and a significant percentage of them are ultimately convicted of that crime. Most law enforcement officers conduct honest investigations, only arresting someone if they truly believe they have sufficient evidence to do so. Unfortunately, however, a large enough percentage of them worry less about arresting the right person and more about arresting someone for the crime so that they can close out the case. A suspect who is not represented by an attorney makes a perfect scapegoat when a detective is determined to arrest someone for the crime in question.
But Won’t the Police Be More Inclined to Think I’m Guilty If I Hire a Lawyer?
This concern is logical, and it does hold true to some extent; however, in the grand scheme of things, it is far less important than other considerations. Yes, some law enforcement officers and/or prosecuting attorneys will be inclined to view the hiring of an attorney as an indication of your guilt. Several points, however, make that reality irrelevant. First, if the police want to “talk” to you, there is a strong likelihood that they already think you are guilty. Second, you have an absolute right to be represented by an attorney and the decision to exercise that right should not be influenced by anyone else’s opinion. Finally, failing to hire a criminal defense attorney effectively means you waive many of your rights as a suspect or an accused. It is much more difficult for an attorney to protect you after you talk to the police, or after you give them consent to search, than it is to prevent that questioning or searching before it occurs.
Contact a Nebraska Criminal Defense Lawyer at Petersen Law Office
If you have reason to believe you are a suspect in a criminal investigation in the State of Nebraska, do not hesitate to consult with an experienced criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible to ensure that your rights are protected. In Nebraska contact Petersen Criminal Defense Law 24 hours a day at 402-509-8070 to discuss your case.