Samuel Goldberg has been a Massachusetts criminal defense attorney for 20 years. Prior to that, he was a New York state prosecutor. He has published various articles regarding the practice of criminal law and frequently provides legal analysis on radio and television, appearing on outlets such as the Fox News Channel, Court TV, MSNBC and The BBC Network. To speak to Sam about a criminal matter call (617) 492 3000.

ATTORNEY SAM FINISHES THE FIVE SUGGESTIONS TO REMEMBER WHEN LAW ENFORCEMENT COMES TO YOUR DOOR

…And so our list continues.

Law enforcement has appeared at your door, interested in coming in to either look around, have a chat or both.

Now what?

I had just finished the second of five points for you to keep in mind when we left off.

Suggestion 3. Thou Shalt Not Give False Information

Whether or not you choose to carry on conversations with the investigating officers is your choice. However, that does not mean that you are free to tell them anything you want.

The law does not give you the license to lie to the investigators.

In fact, in Massachusetts, to give false information to law enforcement is to commit a felony. That felony, ironically, is called “Intimidation Of A Witness” for some reason which continues to allude me.

Sometimes, as it does with logic, the law has its own way of defining words.

However, the meaning of the law is clear. You cannot lie to law enforcement.

Incidentally, it usually not a very good tactical idea to lie to police officers anyway. Any such lie is likely to revisit you down the road…at trial. Showing a judge or jury that you lied about Anything is often effectively used to convince the fact finder that you cannot be believed about anything.

It can also be used to show “consciousness of guilt”.

Suggestion 4. Thou Shalt Not Take Offers And “Empathy” From Police Too Seriously

Don’t get me wrong.

Just because you cannot lie to law enforcement does not mean that law enforcement cannot lie to you!

In fact, misleading folks in order to trick them into making statements or otherwise unwittingly giving information is regarded as good police work.

This means that if that friendly detective puts a fatherly hand on your shoulder and says something like “Come on, I know you are a good kid. Just made a little mistake. This is the only time I can help you. But I cannot help you unless you tell me your side of the story. That way, I can lower the charges”…it is a ploy.

Might the officer take a liking to you?

Maybe.

But the criminal charges are likely coming anyway. The detective is merely trying to get a statement to use in building the case. Like it or not, that is his job. He probably likes his job better than he likes you.

In general, it is the Assistant District Attorney who decides what breaks are given to whom…not the arresting or investigating officer.

Another scenario I see is when a suspect actually asks the officer if she should get an attorney. Many officers are careful how they handle this one, but the answer they give is seldom “yes” for obvious reasons.

By the way, in reality, the answer is “yes”.

Another favorite ploy is one you often see acted out on television…using one suspect against the other. In other words, “Hey, you’d better tell us your side. Your buddy there is saying that you are the one that pulled the trigger and planned the whole thing. We don’t really believe him…but you’ve got to work with us here…!”

Or the helpful detective might suggest a possible defense you could use, as in, “Look, he probably swung at you first, cursing your beloved mother, and when he was about to hit you in the face with a hammer…you felt you had to push him a little…right?”

If the Detective can get you to take his suddenly defense-oriented suggestion…he has you.

“You mean that stuff is never true?”

I never say “never”. Everything is possible. I am just telling you that, usually, this is how it goes down. It is like a game and your conviction is the prize.

Suggestion 5. Thou Shalt Not Try To Out-Wit, Out-Fight Or Out Run Law Enforcement

We have discussed this one many times over the years.

Many people figure that they can “handle” law enforcement, assuming the officer has a simple childlike level of intelligence. This is generally not the case. Particularly when it comes to federal investigators and detectives.

Further, the officer knew why he was coming before he came to your door. He knows what his theory of the case already is. Further, if you are in any way a suspect, he expects you to lie to him. Finally, he has probably handled this same type of case many times and gotten the same type of story that you will give him.

Don’t try to out-wit him.

True, some folks are lucky enough to have out-run the police for a certain amount of time. The problem is, though, police usually end up finding said runner. The only thing that running provides is the gaining of new criminal charges and additional evidence to be used against you at trial.

Oh yes. And it also makes it much tougher to be released on reasonable or no bail.

Out-fighting the police is something we still see too often. Again, the success rate for these attempts are pretty low.

The risk?

Endeavoring in the attempt brings additional, often more serious, criminal charges.

It also creates additional evidence against you and hurts chances for reasonable bail.

Oh. One more thing…

It can get you dead.

Contact Information