What to Avoid If You Are Facing Criminal Charges
Interviewer: What are some of the most common ways that people unintentionally incriminate themselves or hurt their pending case?
Avoid Providing Statements to the Police
Jack O’Donnell: The number one action to avoid is to speak to a police officer who’s investigating a possible crime. People mistakenly assume that it’s going to be in their best interests to share with the police officer what they know or what their take is on the situation. More commonly, answering police questions about an investigation can usually backfire on a suspect.
Many People Commonly Feel They Appear to Be Hiding Something by Not Speaking to the Police
Interviewer: Why do they do it?
Jack O’Donnell: They think that by not speaking it’s going to be a red flag that they’re guilty. They think that it’s better to just speak and deny, deny, deny. Ultimately the police don’t accept the denial. They will ask a whole assortment of questions frequently designed to get you to slip up, make inconsistent statements, and ultimately confess.
So we advise people not to speak to the police when they’re a suspect in a crime, if they have been asked to come into the police station to talk.
Interviewer: If a client comes to you and says, “Here the problem is that I actually gave the police officer some information; what are we going to do?” What steps do you take after that?
Providing the Police with Information Can Lead to a Warrant Being Issued for Your Arrest
Jack O’Donnell: I tell them, “Had you spoken with me I would have advised you not to, but the damage is done. If the police have enough information coupled with whatever you volunteered, there will be an affidavit prepared, and a warrant submitted to the proper authority for review and signing. Then if probable cause is found then the warrant will get served. Then we have to start the process of defending you.”
Common Misconceptions about Criminal Charges
Interviewer: What are some of the top misconceptions that people have that are being arrested for a crime when they speak to you about their case?
Receiving a Misdemeanor Summons Is Technically an Arrest
Jack O’Donnell: They think they have to be taken into custody to be arrested. When they’re given a misdemeanor summons, that’s still technically an arrest, it is just that they haven’t been taken into custody.