Interviewer: What have you learned about people’s behavior and their reaction to being arrested and prosecuted for a crime? What human insights have you gained in the whole process?
Paul Tafelski: People act different ways when put under the pressure of the police spotlight. Some people will immediately try and cooperate and hope for the best and try to talk their way out of it. Other people will not admit anything and not cooperate with the police. The ones who don’t cooperate but do it in a polite and respectful manner, they usually help themselves the most because they don’t serve the evidence up to the police on a silver platter.
It depends, the people who do respect what the police are trying to do but are not going to feel the pressure of helping them do their job probably are the minority but they probably do the best at protecting their own interests.
Discovering You Are Under Investigation for a Crime Even if You Have Not Been Arrested
Interviewer: If someone hasn’t been arrested but they’re under criminal investigation or have been charged for a crime, how do they know that?
Paul Tafelski: Typically, the police will call them and tell them that they want to speak to them and would they mind coming into the police station to talk about something. That’s usually how it will start. In some cases the police may go around talking to other people trying to gather evidence before they try to confront the person who is the actual suspect but a lot of times they will simply call the suspect and ask to talk. The first thing those people need to know is do not go make any statements without first consulting an attorney.
I’ve had many cases including some very serious cases where the client would have been prosecuted and convicted had they gone and made any statements but by simply not making those statements the police did not have sufficient evidence to ever prosecute them. It goes back to what I said earlier about not serving up the evidence on a silver platter because it gets very serious when you start being interviewed by the police and they’re not doing it because they’re just curious about something. They’re doing it because they’re trying to build a case against you. It’s no time to be penny wise and pound foolish. It’s the time to exercise your right and hire an attorney. At that point, you want to try to nip this problem in the bud before it gets started.
Cooperating with the Police Does Not Help You in Defending Your Criminal Case
Interviewer: Does the police officer make it seem that way like you need to come in now?
Paul Tafelski: They make it seem like you’ll be better off if you cooperate like they’re just trying to figure out something’s and right now nobody’s in trouble. They have their ways; they’re smart and well trained.
Interviewer: Are they allowed to lie to someone?
Paul Tafelski: Sure, why not? Depends, to some degree sure they’re allowed to lie. Most of the time what they do is they tell you something that’s true at the time. For example, they say “hey, right now nobody’s in trouble.” Well, that’s true right now nobody’s in trouble but they’re hoping you’ll be in trouble after they talk to you.
You have no obligation to tell them anything or to be truthful but in some circumstances lying to them can be considered obstruction of justice or interference with justice. It depends upon the specific facts of the situation. For example, if you give them a false name that can be considered obstruction of justice. However, if they say to you hey, were you drinking tonight and you say no. That’s typically not going to get you in any trouble.