Should You Talk To Law Enforcement Officials
By Aurelia Masterson, www.panamalaw.org
Introduction – This is written as a result of dealing with people around the world who get questioned by the police officials regarding various events. Whether or not these people are guilty is not the point of this writing. The point is to show how foolish it is to talk to the law enforcement officials in most countries where there is still something left of a constitution or justice system. Why Do the Police Want to Talk to You? – To convict you and/or someone else. They do not come to talk in order to exonerate people. The prosecutors in the USA have no legal need to make any efforts to collect evidence that would exonerate you of any guilt. This they call exculpatory evidence. They do have a legal requirement to make the defense aware of any evidence that they did get possession of that would exonerate the accused, but they do not have to go out and see if they can collect evidence to show that the accused is innocent. They are there to convict the accused and that is the long and short of it. Do not be confused with the morality of not convicting the innocent so the law continues to look for the guilty. I never heard of any law enforcement official promoted for proving the innocent to be innocent. They do get promoted for convictions. A conviction is a conviction, is a conviction, period. Martha Stewart – She went to jail for lying to a Federal Officer. She was not convicted of what the police went to discuss with her. If you erroneously make an incorrect statement to a Federal Officer then you are guilty of the felony of lying to Federal Law Enforcement Officer. It is incumbent on you to prove in court if charged, that this error was made as an innocent mistake. This would be after tens of thousands of legal bills and months if not years of being in the criminal justice system. Now if you refuse to talk to the law enforcement officers then you have removed yourself from any chance of being arrested for lying to a Federal Officer. Right here you have sufficient grounds to never talk to them. Martha Stewart tried to talk her way out of it. The police are not there to see if you are guilty or innocent. They are there to “clear cases” or get convictions. All they care about is what they can convict you of. You need to understand this. If there is no questioning (you refuse to talk to them) then there is no going somewhere else with their investigation as a result of you really things not beneficial to you that they would have otherwise been unaware of. If Martha Stewart just said “No” to their questioning she would not have gone to jail. Police Tactics – If the police had a case against you with evidence, they really have to arrest you. To not do so is unusual, irregular and can cause problems for the police later on. Lets say you repeat the crime while they delayed arresting you and it gets out that they were stalling. They would be in trouble and possibly sued by the subsequent victims. To not arrest you can be
construed as corruption, obstruction of justice, dereliction of duty amongst other things. The point of this is if the police had evidence of you being guilty of a crime they would not come and chat about it with you. They would arrest you, read you your rights, take you into custody and then they would start working on you from a position of strength in that you are in custody. Even if you do get arrested never ever talk to them. Just keep asking for your lawyer. Admit to nothing, deny nothing, have no conversations about anything. Just shut up and wait for your lawyer. No police person is your friend and they are not trying to help you in any way. Many times the police think they have a case, make an arrest and the prosecutor kicks it out later. They may have enough probable cause for an arrest but yet at the same time lack the evidence to prove you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. So they try to arrest you and then scare you into talking knowing their charges are garbage. Ok so if the police are coming to chat with you, discuss documents, motives, allegations, money matters, etc it is ONLY to gain more evidence against you. They are not trying to exonerate you. They very well may be trying to find out if you had any conspirators and then charge several people collectively with the crime plus conspiracy. They love multiple defendants so they can get them to pleas bargain against each other for lesser sentences. This is their main modus operandi. Law enforcement agencies are conviction driven agencies. No one counts how many times they cleared an innocent person and this is not what promotions are based on. When they developed DNA tests many people got out of jail because it was proven by DNA testing they did not do the crime. Many of these people were sitting in jail for decades. Police will railroad people lots of times simply because they can. When the police come to talk to you they are trying to get more evidence or more probable cause for subpoenas, search warrants, depositions of yourself and/or others etc. This will assist them in building a case. If they seem to not understand say a financial transaction they have a record of, do not explain it even if you think you are innocent of what they suspect and can explain it. You may unknowingly be guilty of something else you do not even know is a crime. Do not talk to them. Do say let me call my lawyer. Say I do not wish to talk to you at all. Do not be intimidated by their threats of arrest etc. If they could arrest you they would have already done so. Understanding the financial transaction is their problem, not yours. They have nothing or they would have arrested you. Do not assist them. When the police arrest you they know you are going to be represented by counsel and their games are over at that point. If they have evidence they do not care and will arrest you. Your explanation will not be of interest if they have hard evidence. Tell it to the judge is what they will say. What If I Can Convince the Police I am Innocent? – Let’s say you do convince the police of this, it could happen, anything is possible. The police cannot come into court and testify that you said so and so and they believe you are innocent. This would be excluded as hear say evidence by the prosecution. Even if you got the police won over the prosecutor would not allow this into court. Forget trying to get the police to be your ally.
Financial Crimes – These are the rage now due to failing real estate markets and stock markets. The charge is usually fraud, conspiracy to commit fraud and money laundering. They seem to be based on loan applications in general. The person walks away from the real estate and the bank takes a hit. Then the bank reviews the credit application and sees things it does not like. Can be what they perceive to be overstated income, understated operating expenses, overstated assets, and overstated appraisals whatever. They try to create a criminal case and file complaints under city, county, state or federal laws. Next you find out your business associates, friends, neighbors and relatives are being contacted by law enforcement officers discussing you and your business dealings. You see bank and financial records get subpoenaed. Eventually they come and talk to you. Never talk to them. They are talking to you because they do not have enough to arrest you and are fishing for more. Ignore them 100%. Do not give them any documents at all. They will charge you if they get enough evidence. Do assist them by talking to them or giving them anything. If they are talking to your friends, relatives and business associates then rest assured there is a good chance you will be indicted. If you think you may have overstated something or understate something regarding loan applications then get ready for a criminal case based on current trends (April 2009). Go start interviewing criminal lawyers right away. Do not wait to see what happens, go right now and start getting expert advice. What Will Happen If You Get Indicted – You will be formally arrested. The authorities will probably not be polite and not ask you to come in for booking, you might flee. They will view you the same as an armed robber or thief. You will be booked. Possibly you will be released on your own recognizance. You may need to post bond. If it is Federal crime expect your passport to be taken. Your real estate will have the title clouded by liens. Your banks accounts will be have liens as well. You will have to report to something like a probation officer until the trial is over. You will have to ask for permission to access your money and they will control how much you can get to spend. They are not going to let you spend your money on lawyers; they want your money to cover their prosecution expenses. You will not be allowed to leave the USA. You will see that you are guilty until proven innocent. The Federal system is designed to get you to plead guilty and take a plea with some jail time. State, City and County prosecutions tend to be easier to deal with. Local law enforcement agencies and local prosecutors do not have the budgets that the Federal Government has. They need to watch their expenses. All prosecutors like to pursue cases where there is a reasonable chance of recovering money to cover their costs of the prosecution. How Federal White Collar Criminal Cases Are Made – This is a trend we have seen in recent years. The investigation times tend to be in the two-year range from the time the person first learns of the investigation until criminal charges are filed. Usually it starts with subpoenas being filed for financial institution records and computers. Then people will be calling telling how they were interviewed about you. If there is hard evidence against you, you may be charged as the only defendant. We see a whole lot of cases where there are a number of people charged at the same time. Can be up to dozens. After a few months what you will see is defendants pleading guilty in a plea bargain. After they plead they go to a debriefing hearing with the prosecutors and criminal investigators. They tell all they know about the case and the other defendants. If they lie or fail to be open and
tell all they know, the plea bargain gets rescinded. The ones to plead first get the shortest sentences. Generally they keep the jail time to at least 2 years. Then later on you see a few more people plead getting slightly longer sentences. Then the ones left have to deal with several people offering testimony about their guilt. Yes the witnesses are also co-defendants and plead guilty for a lesser sentence but this is a nightmare to deal with in court for your lawyer. The idea is to lay out enough charges for the person to die in jail if they get convicted of all charges. This makes fighting the charges sort of frightening. The alternative is to take 4 or so years in jail for a guilty plea. You can still have a life again; only it will be as a convicted felon. After a few months you find out your criminal attorney who was so positive in the beginning will be encouraging you to plea. He bilked you good for fees and he does not want to bother with the hard work of trial preparation and a trial. If you appeal a conviction the appellate lawyer may see that he did shabby work and this exposes the criminal lawyer for a civil action from you for the fees you gave him. This will adversely affect his malpractice insurance. So he tries to get a reasonable amount of money from you and not expose himself by encouraging you to plea. Your situation takes a second place to his. Your lawyer doesn’t care about you as much as he or she should, and the prosecutor doesn’t care about you, your family, your situation or the morality of what they are doing to do at all. What fun. Can You Leave the USA After You Are Indicted in Federal Court – No! Your passport will be taken away. How can you leave? You now need a passport to exit the USA. Sure you could try and sneak out and then this would be another charge they would charge you with if they caught you. Bad idea. How good are you at traveling internationally without documents when there are warrants out for you, Interpol alerts etc. ill advised. You could sneak out in a go fast boat and risk getting shot at when you refused to stop. People ask us about this all too often. They say can you send me a passport by mail? We say of course not. Only fake passports are sold this way. They would not work on exit since you have no entry visa in the passport and in the computer system. You would be questioned, fingerprinted, and then charged with unlawful flight, violating terms of release and whatever else they threw at you. If you get indicted start thinking about a plea right away so you can be first with a shorter sentence if this is your intention or think about beating them in court. These are your two choices. The Federal Courts have an 87% conviction rate counting the plea bargains of course. There are people who win criminal cases in Federal courts. Today winning or getting convicted has little to do with whether or not you are guilty. The law you are charged with breaking could be unconstitutional. The way evidence was obtained could be unconstitutional. The confessions of others could have been obtained in violation of law and ethics. What About Vehicle Stops? – Ok here there needs to be some talking to the Police. They need to see if you are coherent or drunk. Keep the discussions to a minimum. Do not give permission to the police to search your vehicle or you for any reason. If they threaten to bring drug dogs, get a telephonic search warrant etc; tell them you do not want them to search the vehicle. Do not get into discussions as to destination, residence, work, etc. If the police run on ask them if the stop is over and if you can leave. When you get stopped roll down the window slightly so talking can he heard and you can hand them the license and
registration. No matter what no permission to search for any reason. If the police ask you if there is anything in the car he should know about answer NO. Do not say more than this just let him talk. Getting him to talk means you have control over the police person. Why should they need to know about anything in your personal property? The police may give you a ticket. Fine. If you hire a traffic ticket lawyer you will have say a 75% chance of beating the ticket in court and this costs a few hundred dollars at most. So there is not much of a downside to being uncooperative to the police. If the police tell you to get out of the car, try to do so and lock the car right behind you. They may force you to open it or force you to give them the keys, but would be unlikely. Police now will taser you for any infraction of not doing what they say to do. They may tolerate some brief questions from you but will soon threaten the taser. You can say I am not giving you permission to open my car. Make sure you speak for the dashboard camera and microphone many police cars now have. See I said it for the camera is a nice thing to say to the officer. In a police state you have to tolerate the police bullying you in the name of the war on drugs, terror or crime. So keep your mouth shut, comply with requests like sit here, stand here, and be quiet. Sign the ticket since they will arrest you if you do not. And it will soon be over. Keep asking him if the traffic stop is over every time he stops doing anything or talking to you. A traffic stop legally is like an arrest. You are lawfully detained and cannot leave until the traffic stop is over. Make a point of very obviously looking at his badge, nameplate and car number. Burn this into your memory. Address him by name or badge number. Basically the goal is to get out of there as fast as possible with or without a ticket. Tickets are generally easy to beat in a trial. Generally 50% of the time the officer will not show up. So right there if he does not show up in court you win and there is a 50% chance of this. When he does appear your lawyer if any good will win 50% of the time. So you have a 75% chance of winning. You have an excellent chance of beating the ticket. If it is a driving under influence there are expert witnesses that can help a good traffic lawyer beat these offenses with very good odds as well. These expert witnesses are often pharmacologists with Doctorate Degrees and can really destroy the alcohol tests the police administered in a court. They are not cheap but they are effective. So do not get into hoping for leniency by allowing searches or by participating in extensive lines of questioning. Getting out of any sort of traffic violation is far less complicated and less threatening than getting out of a serious criminal case. What About At The Airport – If you live in or travel to a police state there are no rights. Answer questions about what you have, where you have been, purpose of trip etc. Keep the answers brief and direct. Stand there and stare blankly awaiting the next question. The idea is to wait until the official gets bored and gives up. Do not lie. Do not possess anything that is illegal. What can they do to you? Make you open luggage. Big deal. Again when you have a police state this is what you get. How Simple Airport and Border Interrogations Work – Do not think that by understanding some simple interrogation techniques you are an expert. You are not practiced, never rehearsed; never saw yourself on video etc. This is just a little insight into their tactics. In these types of
settings the government officials are trying to move a large amount of travelers through as rapidly as possible. They have little time to spend on random interrogations. When you go to a booth and present your passport they will do a swipe of the passport. They will then look at a computer monitor. They are probably looking to see if you are on a manifest of some arriving flights if an airport. They may be looking at your picture. They may be looking at very little information at all, depends on the computer system and the country. They will usually ask you something to get you talking. They want to see if you are nervous and hear your accent. These people are generally not well trained. If they get a signal of something being out of the ordinary they turn it over to a more experienced person. These people are at least 75% clerks even if they have badges and guns. Their guns may be unloaded or they might not be allowed to carry the gun with a round in the chamber. They may have to leave their guns at the workplace in the evening along with their badges. They are low-level law enforcement officers, mostly performing clerical duties. They do not want you to know this. The more serious law enforcement types at an airport may decide to talk to you. Never ever approach any law enforcement person at any airport to ask them anything. Try to refrain from this. Asking them anything triggers the pushing of a 'lets do more scrutiny on these people' button. Remember this. Best advice is to ask no one any questions. You are on camera and people are watching you and if they see anything they will have you questioned. So be a dumb traveler shuffling his feet in the line acting bored, a little irritated only and resigned to waiting to get through the line. The interrogation technique often employed in airports, ports or land border crossings is simple. Not every country is exactly like this but you will be surprised at how similar it is when you know what to look for. You are asked a few simple questions that can easily be verified like by looking at your ticket and passport so you would be unlikely to lie or be deceptive about such answers especially since they are not incriminating questions to answer. Things like where did you come from, what airline, what flight, how long were you gone, who are you traveling with, etc. This is to get a reading on you. They are watching your face for signs like squinting, raising eyebrows, snarling, listening to your voice for fluctuations, studying your speed of speech, time to answer, where you look when answering and your body language like rubbing hands, shuffling feet etc. After the investigator gets a feel for how you will answer a question truthfully he sends in a heavy question like – how much money do you have on you, do you have any drugs or illegal medicines on you, etc. Then he watches to see if when you answer everything is the same or if he hit a nerve and you answer the heavy question differently than the easy simple questions. Of course an intelligence agent or professional criminal would practice these techniques on video from several angles to get polished at it. An intelligence agent would also have experience in questioning people, which helps a lot. This is not anything to do with serious interrogation techniques that take a long time to learn and deploy. There is no getting the confidence, fear, trust etc. of the subject since time is so short. You can easily research this on the Internet and there are books that deal with this subject. It is always going to be learning common sense techniques, never a silver bullet.
Telephone Calls from Police – Hang up immediately. How do you know who they are? There is no reason to provide any information at all to a phone caller. If the police are going to arrest you or question you regarding something serious they will not call before coming. They need the element of surprise on their side. Suspicious Police and Impersonators – There are all sorts of counterfeit police credentials floating around. No law enforcement agency is exempt. Do you know what different law enforcement agency credentials look like? Try finding examples on the Internet. You can’t. How do you know they are real? Do you know if badges from a certain department all have numbers on them even for the high-ranking officials or not? How many law enforcement agencies does your country have, do you know all their names and what their badges and ID cards look like? Tell the person who says he is an official you want to call the law enforcement agency from the phone number listed in the phone book to see if they really are who they say they are. A lot of experienced law enforcement agents will tell you what page in the phone book to go to in order to find their agency phone number. If possible do this from behind a closed door. If they come to your house and show you credentials look at them through the peephole and get their name and phone the agency to see if they have someone with that name in the department and if he is supposed to be at your house now. The law enforcement officers always will radio in that they are going to your address before getting out of the car for their own protection. If the dispatcher does not hear from them after a while they will know the last place they went on foot and start looking for them at that location. People can go to jail for a long time for impersonating a police officer so if you phone in an impersonator they are going to freak out. Best if you are behind a closed door. They will not have a lot of time to get away and will probably not want to start bashing doors down, favoring escape instead. You can also call the police if you suspect a person is impersonating a police officer. Tell the police he has a badge that looks like he bought it in a toy store and is making you very scared. They will come fast. Police hate police impersonators perhaps more than child molesters. You can try calling a law enforcement agency different than the one they are presenting badge or credentials for. Never believe anyone who just shows a badge. They all should have impressive looking ID cards with photos. You can tell the suspicious officer you called the police or not. If you think the police are real like you verified them by calling their department then say you do not want to talk to them. Never open doors. If they had a warrant for search or arrest they would probably be pointing guns at you and pounding down the door. The street scene would be full of marked vehicles with lights and radios. Forget all this babbling about we can get a warrant open the door. Ignore it. People impersonating police officers in various countries have been known to use these false credentials to commit rapes, robberies, kidnappings and murders. Take people impersonating police very seriously and get help from law enforcement immediately. Never let them tell you that you will be in trouble for verifying that they are authentic officers of the law. No real law enforcement officer would ever prevent you from verifying their identity. If they surround your house and say they are conducting a raid come out now with your hands up look outside to see what is going
on. If you see a lot of marked police cars with the lights on and radios cackling it is probably a legitimate raid. If you see only unmarked cars I would say that you should not cooperate until you call the police to verify their authenticity. If they pushed it I would just shine them on and use a cell phone to call the local police and report it as a home invasion by a gang with guns threatening you if you do not open the door. If you get a phone call saying it is a real police raid, disregard it. This can be the bad guys. Do not open the door until you get verification. They will be trying to roust you to open before you make the call. Best to just make the call without telling them you are doing so. Buy time by like talking in a language foreign to the region. Say in the local lingo you do not speak the language. This will confuse them briefly. In some regions of the world this is the way kidnappers and robbers work. It is also the way dishonest police work. Be careful. Retreat to a safe area and get the police there and fast. After you have called the police if they are acting like they are going to break in tell them you are armed and will shoot and the real police are on the way. Real police will consider waiting for their friends to show up. The best choice for impersonators under these circumstances is to retreat at this point. The chances of a good crime scene for them are really over and they know this and will opt to be free to rob again another day. Police impersonators are a serious threat. Sometimes it can be a retired law enforcement officer working as a private detective trying to get information only. They may be using their retired credentials or false credentials relying on their ability to control an interview professionally. This sort is not very dangerous but treat the threat as dangerous anyway. Lie Detectors – In a word these do not work. Voice stress analyzers also do not work. They have never been proved to work. They are only an interrogation tool designed to intimidate people into confessing during an interrogation. The course of training for a lie detector operator is about 12 weeks. You could learn how to operate the machine in hours. It is a course in interrogation. Never take a lie detector test for any reason, period. Results can be rigged. Governments use them because the deception gets confessions and admissions. It is also a fear tactic to keep the employees in line. These stupid tactics ruin people’s lives. There is a web site that explains the stupidity of these various lie detectors, studies that have debunked them repeatedly with consistency as well as the various easy to learn methods of defeating them. http://antipolygraph.org/ Governments have taken to using drugs for interrogations with and without lie detectors many years ago. Never agree to be drug interrogated. These drugs get people to lapse into comas a nd worse. If you cannot drive under drugs how the heck can you answer questions accurately? Again more intimidation and scare tactics.