Police Interrogation (reader suggested topic)


Couple weeks back an avid reader suggested that I write about police interrogations. I liked the idea and finally came up with this. If you have any suggestions for topics please feel free to send them along and I will do my best to write about them. First my disclaimer, I am not a police officer, have never been trained in interrogation and I am not an expert in this area. The following about police interrogation is from my experience in viewing these types of interactions.

There are many things that work against you during an interrogation. The more you understand the process the better you can protect yourself. The best advice is to stay silent and get a lawyer as soon as possible. Aside from that, here are a few points to keep in mind.

The speed of the process. I hear the words, “well it all just happened so quickly” way too often. That is one of the largest problems working against you. Something happens, you get arrested, driven back to the police station, and then they start asking questions. The pace really bothers a lot of people, and it hurts their concentration. A lot of people are still trying to figure out what just happened at the scene, or are stunned about being arrested and as a result don’t pay attention at the police station. It is important that you stay focused, and in the moment.

The atmosphere. The area that you are usually brought into is a small bare room. The room is uncomfortable and it makes a lot of people uneasy and gives them a feeling of not being in control. There is usually a double sided mirror, video recording, some old chairs, uncomfortable lighting, and a sorry looking table. All this can make people feel uneasy. When you feel uneasy, it gives the other side the advantage.

The numbers. There are usually at least two officers there when the questioning happens. This uneven number can make people feel helpless, especially in a small room. The police do have to give you your Miranda rights. Those are usually given at the beginning when the conversation is still pretty easygoing. Because of the light atmosphere at the beginning, a lot of people sign away their rights. However, once the questioning gets going most regret waiving their rights. The police don’t have to let you know that you can still assert your right to an attorney even after you waive your rights. Remember to ask for an attorney before you speak with them, but even if you sign a waiver, you can still ask for an attorney later on.

The questioning. The police are very good at getting people talking. At the beginning of the questioning, they tend to ask easy questions. This usually gets people use to talking to them. We as a society have a tendency to keep talking once we start talking. The police may also use small amounts of outside information, like we talked to this person or we found this evidence, to encourage you further.

Video tapes and signed confessions. Usually every interviewed is video taped and the police will ask you to sign a written confession. A video taped signed confession can be devastating, and they usually are. Most of the time they are a key piece of the prosecution puzzle. Even if the police have a lot of physical or derivative evidence, they must link the evidence together to point at you. When you have a signed written confession you are helping the police tie the evidence together. You can be even filling in gaps that the police could not solve without more information.

The majority of police officers are nice to talk to and pretty helpful. However, they have a job to do and cases to investigate. A large part of their investigation requires them to question people. Knowing that, it is very important that you stay vigilant and protect yourself at all times. After all, you wouldn’t tell your spouse about the details of the bachelor or bachelorette party, would you? Then again I wouldn’t want to see the thing your spouse may do in response to you invoking your right to remain silent, or to an attorney.

Arrests and Interrogations FAQ
http://articles.directorym.com/Arrests_and_Interrogations_FAQ_Lawrence_MA-r935136-Lawrence_MA.html

Mark A. Godsey: Shining the Bright Light on Police Interrogation in America
http://moritzlaw.osu.edu/osjcl/Articles/Volume6_2/Godsey-FinalPDF.pdf

For more information: visit http://www.attorneychan.com or contact me at 508-808-8902

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Top ten reasons you don’t need to hire a lawyer for your criminal case


1. You are a huge fan of the world series of poker and decided to gamble with your life.

2. You can’t stop laughing from the drugs that you are on, and decide that it will be a lot more fun representing yourself.

3. Your mom told you were meant to do great things, and you decided to start by trying to win your own case.

4. You thought the words pro se (represent yourself) sounded cool, and decided to choose that option.

5. Your psychic told you this was your year, and you feel invincible.

6. You believe that you are the best liar in the world because your spouse believes everything you say. As a result, you believe the court will also fall prey to your skills.

7. Your shrink told you need to be more independent, and you don’t want to have an attorney get in the way of your shrink’s advice.

8. You have seen every episode of law and order and figured that your case would end in an hour anyway, so you rather not go through the hassle of getting an attorney.

9. You stayed at a Holliday Inn last night and feel very confident.

10. You equate lawyers to crooks. People have called you a crook all of your life, and with your logic, you believe that makes you a lawyer.

In all seriousness, there is no reason to not get an attorney for your criminal case. The court will hold you to the same standards as if you have an attorney representing you. For the most part, not having an attorney is not sufficient grounds for an appeal. Even if you signed a waiver to represent yourself, most judges will allow you to change your mind and hire an attorney. You shouldn’t wait to hire an attorney, but by waiving an attorney early on usually doesn’t mean that you can’t hire one later. So be smart, don’t gamble with your life and make sure you have a lawyer.

For more information: visit http://www.attorneychan.com or contact me at 508-808-8902

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At a party, you hear police coming, there are drugs at that place, what do you do?


Throughout your life you probably went to your fair share of parties and you are likely to go to a few more before you hang it up. What if you are at a party, and you know someone is doing drugs or there are drugs in the apartment, and the police show up? There are a lot of police officers everywhere, people screaming, what do you do? Well here are a few things to keep in mind.

Don’t run. This is not an easy thing to do, but think rationally about this for a moment. Most of the time when police do a raid on a house they cover all access points. Therefore, by running away from one police officer, you will inevitably find your self running straight into the arms of another. Besides running doesn’t make you look good. Also let’s face it, if you have been partying and drinking, what are your chances of outrunning the police at this point?

Don’t say much if anything at all. If this is just the police coming into the apartment to break up the party that is one thing, but it could also be a raid. During a raid the police will usually have a search warrant. If the police have a search warrant for that location, they will usually arrest everyone there. You don’t want to say anything that might link you to the place, the targets on the warrant, and obviously the drugs. So don’t say anything, instead tell the officers you don’t want to say anything until you talk to an attorney. Sometimes the strongest piece of evidence the police have is the statements that you give. If you tell the police officers that the drugs in the bedroom aren’t yours it won’t help. You might be thinking you are giving solid defense to the drugs, the police will think that you knew about the drugs in the bedroom. So be quiet.

Call an attorney. If you get arrested and the police want to ask you questions, don’t waive your rights. Tell the police in a nice way that you would like to first talk to an attorney. You never know what the police are thinking. Don’t put yourself in a bad situation because you thought the police were going to let you off easy if you talked.
To recap, don’t run from the scene, don’t say anything at the scene, and don’t answer questions until you talk to an attorney.

Massachusetts Bar Associations talks about search warrants
http://www.massbar.org/about-the-mba/press-room/journalists’-handbook/20-search-warrants-and-subpoenas

For more information: visit http://www.attorneychan.com or contact me at 508-808-8902

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Being guilty of not doing anything


When we think of people committing a crime we usually assume that the person did something. Attempted murder, what are the first things that you think about when you read those words? Most of us would think of a person who actually took several steps to try to kill another person. From our media and Hollywood driven minds we might envision a suspect with black gloves, armed with a weapon that stabs or shoots another person. How many of us would think of a mother not taking care of her child?

Most criminal charges stem from affirmative actions, meaning the person took steps to do something. In certain situations, a person can be charged for not taking steps to prevent harm. This is a very interesting line of criminal cases because it almost contradicts our thoughts of the system. One of the basic ideas of the system is to punish those who wrong others, or society as a whole. The system also values freedom, and doesn’t require normal civilians to help, and save others. People are not punished for not running into a burning building to save people, not running into the ocean to save a drowning person, or not running to call 911 when a person is injured.

However, there are certain situations where a person can be charged for not doing something. In those cases, there usually needs to be some duty owed to the person ultimately harmed. You see this with animal cruelty cases, where people can be charged for not taking care of their animals. A person doesn’t have to do anything affirmatively like hit or actively harm the animal. A person can be charged with animal cruelty if the animal is not given food, shelter, or other proper treatment.

Finally, the Boston Globe recently reported that Kristen LaBrie was charged with attempted murder and child endangerment. The prosecution brought the charges after she cancelled doctor appointments, and did not fill prescriptions for her son who had cancer. In the end, Ms. LaBrie’s son who also was autistic died. Ms. LaBrie’s attorney claimed that this was done due to financial hardship, but the judge still held her on $15,000 cash bail.

It will be interesting to see the punishment that Ms. LaBrie ends up facing, and the course these types of cases will lead. For now, remember that you can be charged or convicted of committing a crime, for not doing anything.

http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2009/07/06/mass_mom_pleads_not_guilty_to_denying_son_meds_1246891102/

For more information: visit http://www.attorneychan.com or contact me at 508-808-8902

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The most dangerous plea


If you ever find yourself in court, you will notice the long waiting time before your case gets heard. However, once your case is finally called, you will also notice that your case goes very quickly. As a result of this imperfect legal system, many people are left confused about their court case.

Because the process is so quick, a lot of people do things that they regret later. One of the most common problems is when people take a plea bargain without knowing the possible consequences. This happens quite often when people plead out to a continuance without a finding, or CWOF most commonly called by the court. I call a CWOF one of the most dangerous pleas because there is so much confusion out there, and the confusion leads to huge problems.

So to clarify, a CWOF is not a conviction. If you plead to a CWOF you are not admitting you are guilty, instead you are admitting that there are sufficient facts to find you guilty.
A CWOF will put you on probation for a certain amount of time. The terms of probation is set by the judge. The probation period is usually set at 6 months to 1 year, but it can be any period of time.

One of the major issues with CWOFs is that most people think that the charge disappears from their record at the end of probation. This is false. The charge does not disappear from your record. Most judges and lawyers will say to a person that if they have no problems while on probation the case will be dismissed. Those words usually lead people to believe the charge actually disappears. In fact, the record will show the charge, show that a person admitted to a CWOF, and later show the word dismissed. The original charge remains on the record.

Another problem is that people don’t realize the severity of the punishment that they may face. If you plead out to a CWOF and violate your probation, the charge can now become a guilty conviction. If the judge does withdraw the CWOF and imposed a guilty conviction, the judge may impose the maximum penalty for that charge. It doesn’t mean you will face the maximum penalty, but the judge has the discretion to impose the maximum penalty.

If you have immigration issues, then a CWOF could be devastating. Immigration treats a CWOF the same as a guilty finding. Immigration has its own rules and does not care how the criminal system defines a conviction. As a result, you can be deported because you plead out to a CWOF.

Finally, for certain crimes, a CWOF counts for the purpose of subsequent offenses. For example, if you plead out to a CWOF for operation while under the influence (OUI) and then get arrested for another OUI, you will be charged with OUI second offense. It doesn’t matter that you plead out to a CWOF on your first OUI. Needless to say second and subsequent offenses carry heavier penalties. The court rooms are busy, your case will go fast, but make sure you are aware of all the consequences before you plead to a CWOF.

http://74.125.95.132/search?q=cache:AmuiMMMAykMJ:www.nlgmass.org/cdbrochure.doc+continuance+without+a+finding&cd=14&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us

http://www.masscriminaldefense.com/cwof.htm

For more information: visit http://www.attorneychan.com or contact me at 508-808-8902

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