Montana/Wyoming Criminal Defense Lawyers Say Don’t Talk to Police without Your Attorney if You Get Arrested

Montana/Wyoming Criminal Defense Lawyers Say Don’t Talk to Police without Your Attorney if You Get Arrested

As criminal defense lawyers, we often see clients make the mistake of talking to police without their lawyer present, and they end up getting burned for it. If you get arrested, the best thing you can do is let police know that you want a lawyer and politely decline to talk about anything else until your lawyer arrives. Most people who talk to police without their lawyer present end up saying too much and, in the end, they get in more trouble. You will also give up certain rights if you talk to the police on your own.

Usually, people who talk to police without their lawyer present do so believing police will “let them off the hook” or give them a better deal because of their cooperation. However, by talking to police, more often than not, you reveal information that helps them build their case against you. One of the rights guaranteed to everyone charged with a crime by the Constitution is the right against self-incrimination — the right to not be a witness against yourself. But anything you say to police can be used against you in trial, so if you tell police you’re guilty or give them information that makes their case stronger, you have essentially given up your Fifth Amendment right to not incriminate yourself.

What Should You Do if You’re Arrested?

Many people get themselves further in trouble when they get arrested because they don’t know what to say, what not to say and how to behave. In short, the best strategy is to be polite and decline answering any questions about the matter for which you are being arrested until your defense lawyer is present. The following list will help you know what to do or say (and what not to do or say) should you ever be arrested.

If you are confronted by the police, do the following:

  • Ask if you are free to leave.  If the officer says you are, immediately walk away.  Never run.
  • If the officer says you are not free to leave, ask for an attorney and say nothing else no mater what the police say to you.  Often the police will threaten to arrest you if you don’t answer their questions or promise not to arrest you if you just talk to them.  Even if that is true that day, they will use the information you gave them to arrest you later.
  • If they will not answer whether you are free to leave, announce that you are going to leave and start to walk away slowly.  Never run.

If you are arrested or are about to be arrested, do the following:

  • Be truthful about your name.  Once you are arrested, you still do not have to give the police any information and remaining silent is always best.  However, lying about who you are is a crime.  So if you are going to give the police a name, give them your real name.
  • Insist on having your lawyer present if questioning goes beyond the above — if you can’t afford an attorney, the local court must appoint one for you free of charge
  • If you are a minor (17 years old or younger), tell police the names of your parents and how to reach them and nothing else.
  • Remain calm and relaxed, but respectful
  • Be courteous to police and treat them with respect — don’t be a jerk or police are likely to make your situation worse
  • Avoid acting out
  • Resist the urge to flee and don’t fight the arresting officers
  • By not saying anything, you avoid lying.  Your silence cannot be used against you, the lies you tell can.
  • Decline requests to sign anything your lawyer hasn’t reviewed and approved
  • Immediately contact your lawyer if police or prosecutors threaten you or attempt to coerce or force you to sign anything or to say anything

The chief thing is to remember not to give police or prosecutors any information about the matter for which you are being arrested unless your attorney advises you to do so. Don’t even confirm or deny information police say they already have. Police are not required to be truthful when interrogating a suspect. They often lie to provoke responses and get more information. Your response should be to politely and respectfully insist on having a lawyer present. If they insist on continuing to ask you questions after you’ve requested a lawyer, the questioning officers may be violating your rights, so be sure to tell your lawyer if this happens.

Defend Your Fifth Amendment Rights and Get Help from Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyers           

The criminal defense attorneys at Stinson Law Group have extensive experience helping people charged with crimes defend their rights and keep police from bullying them into revealing more information than they’re required to. If you’ve been charged with a crime in Wyoming or Montana, call the criminal defense lawyers at Stinson Law Group in Cody toll free today for a free consultation: (888) 527-6090.

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