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.

FIVE THINGS TO REMEMBER WHEN APPROACHED BY LAW ENFORCEMENT IN A CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION (Part Two)

 

Look, there is no question about whether robbery is a serious crime in Massachusetts.  Thus, the circumstances were certainly intense in Methuen yesterday.

36-year-old James Dobbins (hereinafter, the “Defendant”) was arraigned today at Beth Israel Hospital. He is charged with robbing a convenience store…armed robbery while masked.

The Defendant is in the hospital because he was shot at least four times by detectives. This took place when investigating officers went to talk to him about the robbery.

According to the Commonwealth, the Defendant called officers to the apartment complex. Then “without warning drew a black firearm, pointed it at the officers and began to move at them rapidly.”

Not the wisest thing to do should you wish to stay alive a bit longer.

He is alive, though, the Boston Herald tells us . Meanwhile, the four officers involved have since been placed on administrative leave, which is common procedure with such shootings.

Attorney Sam’s Take On Surviving Police Encounters With As Little Damage As Possible

We began discussing this topic on my last posting.

Every case is different, as I have told you. There are a few things, though, that are pretty simple that, at least, cannot make matters worse while you gain time to retain experienced counsel.  They include the following:

 

  1. Don’t run at officer with or without a gun.

   In plain talk, running at investigating officers with a firearm is generally referred to as “suicide by cop”. In most instances, it is a good way to end up dead. In the Defendant’s case, he was only wounded.

The key here, though, is not even the gun. Running at or any other aggressive action toward police is not going to lead to something positive.

As we have discussed many times, police officers cannot be sure WHAT they are going to find in the field. They DO know, however, that they would like to return home alive after that shift.

And they will act accordingly.

 

  1. Don’t argue with the officer and tell him that he cannot arrest you.

         He can.

A police officer has a great deal of power and is given a great deal of the benefit of the doubt in court. In the field, the officer will not allow himself to lose control of a situation. That could result in death and destruction.

Arguing with the officer and questioning his authority only makes the officer more nervous of losing control of the situation and probably more than alittle bit angry.

At the very least, there is the criminal charge of Disorderly Conduct. To be charged with this, you really need only be offensive to the officer.

Telling the officer that he cannot do what he is already doing is no only foolhardy, it is offensive to the officer.

Need I do the math here?

 

  1. Don’t lie to police officers.

The law is a bit unfair on this one. I have told you that, by law, investigating officers are allowed to mislead and downright lie to people in order to get evidence, particularly admissions.

This does not mean that you can lie to officers. Doing so can bring you various criminal charges…the most often being “Intimidating A Witness”. While you might need to turn your mind into a pretzel in order to figure out how lying to police is the same thing as intimidating a witness…it, somehow, is.

And it is a felony charge. You can go to jail for it.

 

  1. Don’t simply assume that anything the officer tells you about the investigation is true.

The investigating officer is neither your friend nor your confidant…even when she is acting like she is. You must treat the officer with respect. Give a statement if you want to (although we usually suggest you do not do so without a lawyer present) but you’ve go to treat the officer with respect.

Be aware, as mentioned above, the officer is allowed to lie to your face and has generally been trained to do so.

If it leads to usable evidence, the act is called “good police work”.

 

  1. Do not try to out-smart, out-run or out-fight the police officer.

  You will not win the fight and you will suffer for it again when you get to court. You’re best course of action is to be polite, but usually, do not grant the interview until your attorney is present.

“But won’t that make me look guilty?”

First of all, not really. The officer might act like it does…it makes you look smart.

Also, refusal to make a statement is not admissible in court at trial. The statement that you made that can be twisted around your throat at trial is.

 

Now, have a great, safe and law-abiding weekend!

 

 

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