Many people who end up facing criminal charges in Wisconsin make the mistake of speaking to law enforcement without having an attorney present. This is usually a serious mistake that can sabotage their defense.
Some people try to talk their way out of an arrest. Especially if this is their first time dealing with police, they may believe that explaining properly can make the case go away. Unfortunately, this is usually not the case.
1. Miranda will not always protect you
Chances are, you have heard of the Miranda Warning. You know that police officers must give you an official warning and tell you, you have the right to an attorney. Not everyone realizes that this rule only applies in specific situations and not to all interactions with police.
Often, police officers may start questioning you before taking you into custody. Just because they are not yet putting the handcuffs on, does not mean they will not use your statements against you later. Nor does questioning have to consist of official interrogation. When you encounter police officers wanting to “just ask you some questions,” politely tell them you will not speak with them before consulting your attorney.
2. Officers may lie to you
The law, as stated by several Supreme Court cases, allows police officers to lie during questioning, with few limitations. This is true whether or not they have arrested you. For example, an officer may tell you your friend has testified against you or you were recorded committing the crime, just to get you to confess.
3. You may unintentionally provide evidence against yourself
Many people who get arrested do not know all the specific points of the law, so they may not know what information will help prosecutors later on. Choosing the wrong phrase, being sarcastic, exaggerating – all of these can damage your defense.
Less is more when it comes to speaking with police officers. While you should always be polite and cooperative, do insist on speaking with an attorney before making any statements. A qualified defense lawyer can assess your situation and advise you as to the best way to proceed for an effective defense.