How Do You Know You Are the Subject of a Police Investigation?
Interviewer: How does someone know that they’re being investigated typically?
John Reade: A police officer calls them and says, “Oh I want to talk to you, here’s my phone number call me back.” Or, a police officer shows up at their house, knocks on the door and asks to speak to you. Typically, that’s how the police would contact someone.
Are You Obligated to Speak with the Police?
Interviewer: Are you obligated to talk to the police officer?
John Reade: Absolutely not. Usually, when people think that they are required to speak to them or are going to get in more trouble if they don’t, the opposite is probably true. Because if they say anything to a police officer that’s incriminating that just give them more evidence to use against the person, and makes the prosecutors case that much easier to prove.
Does Refusing to Answer Police Questions Make You Look Guilty?
Interviewer: How is it perceived if someone says, “I’m going to have to decline to speak with you and contact my lawyer.” Does that look like they are guilty and are trying to hide something?
John Reade: No. Because when you assert your Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination it can’t even be introduced in a trial. For example, they couldn’t say, “Oh by the way, officer what happened when you contacted the suspect?” “He wouldn’t talk he wanted to talk to his attorney.”
They just won’t do that. So, I always tell people the best thing to do is be polite, and simply don’t say anything. Just say no thank you I’d like to talk to my attorney.
Interviewer: Do you think a lot of people make that mistake though?
John Reade: Most people do.
Many People Speak to the Police Mistakenly Believing the Police Know Very Little about a Possible Crime
Interviewer: On television, you’ll see a group of detectives or officers just strolling into someone’s house, and they willingly invite them in. Is that a little glamorized or do people actually do that in hopes that they can get their case resolved or prove their innocence?
John Reade: I think the misconception’s some people think that maybe the officers know less than what they actually know before they contact them. Many times they are baiting them and setting up a trap. The individual willingly makes a statement. I always say the best thing to do is simply not to say anything.
The Police Will Present Opportunities for Individuals to Incriminate Themselves or Make Contradictory Statements That Can Be Used against Them
Interviewer: The police just play it like they are just trying to get this case solved. They just want to find out the truth. When in fact they’re looking for little opportunities for someone to self-incriminate themselves sometimes?
John Reade: Correct. Or find a contradiction as opposed to a falsehood or a lie. So they can use that against them later on. Well, you didn’t tell me the truth about this so why would, for example in a jury trial, why would you believe anything else this person said?
When Confronted by the Police, Many People Experience Fear and This May Lead Them to Divulge Too Much Information
Interviewer: What have you learned about people’s behavior, and their reactions to being arrested and prosecuted for a crime?
John Reade: Fear. I guess the first thing is fear that if they don’t cooperate, or talk to the police they’re going to make it worse for them if they didn’t talk to them. That’s a very common misconception, I would say. That’s the primary one that comes to mind.
Will Information about Your Arrest become Public?
Interviewer: How public is someone’s situation going to be? Will their work find out? Will their friends and family know of their arrest?
John Reade: I don’t know how it is everywhere else but here in Josephine County, for example, if you get arrested for a crime it gets published in the newspaper. So I think a lot of people also have a misconception that if they’re charged with something the worst case scenario’s going to happen. I’m going to lose my job and I’m going to lose my license.
I’m going to go to jail, and lose my job because I’ll be in jail. Maybe in a very serious crime that may be accurate. But on most cases, especially with someone who doesn’t have a prior criminal record or nothing that’s really extensive at all that’s probably a misconception also.