Tuesday, February 9, 2016

More on Not Talking to the Police

The following is from a police report in a recent false prescriptions case.  The defendant (now our client) said he returned an investigating police officer's phone call (to be nice!) but didn't give the officer any information.  In his mind he may be right, but let's look at what information the police - trained and motivated to get as much info as possible from people they are investigating - learned from "just a few questions."

I [Officer Friendly] received a return call from [the defendant].  I explained to him that I was investigating a case where it was reported several false prescriptions were filled at Denver pharmacies.  I asked the defendant if he knew anything about the prescriptions.  He acknowledged he knew about the prescriptions, and what I was referring to.  He wanted to speak with his attorney before speaking further.

From this brief, friendly, innocent sounding exchange, the police (and prosecutors) now will claim to know (1) what the defendant sounds like (to be compared to recordings they may have of defendant at the pharmacies), (2) that the defendant knows about the false prescriptions (i.e. a crime was committed), and (3) the defendant knew what the officer was talking about (i.e. defendant committed the crime).  Of course by calling back the defendant also confirmed his phone number, identity, and that he is still around.  All this free information now potentially can be used against the defendant - to find, arrest, prosecute and possibly convict him.

What should the guy have done?  He should have called a lawyer BEFORE calling the police back.  After making the mistake of calling the officer back, he compounded it by not politely declining to answer ANY questions until AFTER he spoke with his lawyer (of course a smart lawyer would have prevented that).

Note that Officer Friendly did not tell the defendant that anything the defendant said could and would be used as evidence against him.  The officer knows this is not required.  Contrary to what you've seen on TV, the famous Miranda advisement only applies to questioning while in custody; phone chit chat doesn't count. 

The defendant here unknowingly helped police to build a case against him.  Will they help him defend it?

Call Sanderson Law, 303-444-8846, before you even think about talking to the police.