As a Boston-area criminal defense attorney, I often find myself, when meeting a prospective client, wanting to ask, “Why in the world didn’t you contact me earlier?” I usually don’t, of course. What is done is done and there are usually enough other urgent issues on the table to discuss.
Things like future liberty.
Let me save you the time of reading the remainder of this blog; the short answer to the title is “No”.
“Well, Sam”, you respond, “Can’t getting a lawyer involved in such a delicate time reflect badly on me or complicate matters?”
Maybe. If you have hired someone who does not have the experience to deal with the situation. But, then, that would be like not calling a doctor when you have a heart attack because there is the risk of medical malpractice out there.
Most likely, you are not someone who has been in the situation of being investigated time and time again. Let me give you a couple of examples of situations you might encounter.
Let’s say you have received a call from either your supervisor, boss or some kind of “risk management” department. Whoever made the call has asked you for a few minutes of your time. You are unaware of any potential misdeeds, so you say “sure”.
You enter their office, and “Hang’em High Harry” from HR is sitting in the office along with the caller. You are politely asked to sit down.
You begin to sense that this is not a typical session. What do you do?
My suggestion in most cases is that you, first, listen to what they have to say or ask. After all, they are way ahead of you here…they know what is on their mind.
Quite often, their questions will reveal their suspicions. As soon as they even hint that they think that some wrongdoing has been done, my suggestion is that, rather than sit and try to pinch hit until you get an attorney, that you explain that it sounds like they suspect you of doing something illegal and so have always heard that you should have a lawyer with you.
“But, Sam, won’t that seem suspicious?”
Usually, no. However, let’s say that this makes them even more suspicious. If they have gone this far, they have probably already decided their version of the facts. Better to make their already-full cup of suspicion overflow than make statements that will come back and haunt you later on.
Another example is the call from the local police station telling you that someone has made a charge against you, but that they would like to get your side of things. They may even tell you that they don’t really believe the claims that you forced your old neighbor’s head into a blender and just need your input to put the matter to rest. Then, you go down to the station and they say, “Yeah…seems like nothing….just tell us your story and then go on home and forget about it.”
They “forget” to finish the statement which should read, “…forget about it until we come by tomorrow to arrest you”.
You see, police officers, by law, are allowed to lie as part of their investigation and especially in trying to get statements from suspects which can be used against them.
It is a freedom which they make great use of.
While there have been exceptions, I seldom see a case where I find myself happy that my client had already made a statement. I cannot recall ever having a case where I wish my client had made a statement and he hadn’t.
Cases wherein my client made statements that he thought were clever and I wish he hadn’t? too numerous to mention.
So, whether it is that friendly little invitation by the local police to come give your side to the story , a confrontation at work or a police officer showing up at your doorstep/on the street…at the first sign of accusation, my suggestion is that you get a lawyer involved who can look into what is going on and determine if it is safe for you to talk…or simply to sit back and listen . Period.
Now, I am not saying never cooperate with the police or your supervisors. However, you have to be smart. If you know you have done something which could get you in trouble, and that seems to be the topic of conversation that they just happen to be seeking your views on, it is time to protect yourself until you can be sure you are safe.
“But, Sam, isn’t what Miranda Rights are for?”
Only police need to worry about such things – not your boss. Further, the case law regarding these rights have become so complicated that it is too much to give a discussion about it here. Suffice to say…not necessarily.
So, at the first sign of an investigation wherein you may be the target, it is never too soon to consult an attorney. It is part of what we do. If you wish to contact me in such a matter, please feel free to contact me at (617) 206-1942.