If you have no previous experience with the police, being arrested, or even just questioned, for the first time can be a frightening and confusing experience. If you have committed a crime, even a relatively small one, the police have the upper hand because they can decide to arrest you or give you a break. Often, however, the decision to give you a break depends on whether or not you are willing to cooperate with the police. While your initial reaction to being asked to cooperate may be to agree if it means avoiding an arrest, there are some important considerations that you should take into account before agreeing to cooperate with the police, including the following:
- The police don’t make charging decisions. One of the biggest misconceptions people have is that the police decide whether or not to charge you with a crime. The police only decide whether or not to arrest The prosecuting attorney then decides whether or not to actually file charges based on the police report filed by the arresting officer.
- The police can lie to you. It is perfectly legal for a law enforcement officer to lie to you in an effort to get information out of you. Keep this in mind when they are offering you the sun, the moon, and the stars in exchange for your cooperation.
- The authority of a law enforcement officer is limited. Your average patrol officer may have the authority to decide not to arrest you for a relatively small crime if you provide useful information; however, if you are being asked to make drug buys, or cooperate on a larger scale with an investigation in exchange for foregoing an arrest on serious charges or dropping felony charges, that type of deal typically requires prosecutorial approval.
- Cooperating usually means admitting guilt. Once you admit guilt you cannot take it back. You also leave your attorney with very little to work with should your “deal” fall through.
- Cooperating can have serious consequences. Cooperating usually means providing the police with incriminating information or evidence against people who have committed worse crimes than yours – and those people may seek retribution.
- You have a right to talk to an attorney. If you are being asked to cooperate in an ongoing investigation involving drug dealing, or another major crime, you have a right to consult with an attorney before making your decision. In fact, your attorney may be able to negotiate your “deal” for you to ensure that you are treated fairly.
Although it may be tempting to jump at any offer made by the police that results in your release from custody or avoiding an arrest, take the time to consider all the possible repercussions of the deal. More importantly, make sure you consult with an experienced Nebraska criminal defense attorney before you agree to anything. If you find yourself faced with a request to cooperate with the police, contact Petersen Criminal Defense Law 24 hours a day at 402-509-8070 to discuss your options with an experienced criminal defense attorney.