Being questioned by the police is understandably a highly stressful and anxiety inducing experience for most people, especially if it’s their first time facing any kind of legal scrutiny. During this time, it’s incredibly important that you ensure your legal rights are observed and protected by experienced criminal defence lawyers like O’Sullivan Legal.
Failing to engage a lawyer when you’re being questioned by the police can prove to be a recipe for disaster for multiple reasons. Obviously, without an adequate legal defence, you face consequences like fines, imprisonment and the acquisition of a criminal record.
The following will take a look at the primary reasons why you absolutely need to speak to a lawyer when detained and questioned by law enforcement.
1. Protecting your legal rights
The most important reason to engage a lawyer before answering any police questions is that they will be able to supervise the interview and make sure the police only ask fair and relevant questions. An experienced lawyer will be able to detect when the police attempt to use legal posturing or intimidation to get you to answer questions that may incriminate you. It’s important to remember that the police are quite eager to prosecute you and have no qualms about tricking you into giving a compromising answer to a question they have no right to ask you.
Police will often, without directly saying it, imply that you are required to answer questions then and there, without legal representation. Legally, (apart from some special circumstances like a child being at risk) you have no obligation to answer any questions the police ask you.
You should always contact a lawyer, preferably one who specialises in criminal defence, prior to entering any interview room, signing any documentation or identifying yourself in photos. Even if the police show a photo that you think is so obvious that you may as well answer, you have no obligation to answer and it won’t work against you in court as being ‘uncooperative’.
Similarly, fully cooperating with all police demands and following a procedure that infringes your rights won’t give you more leverage when applying for bail. You have a right to say no and you will not be rewarded or penalised for your decision to go along with or deny a police interview.
Sometime your lawyer will advise you to go along with the interview, as it is a valid course of action as part of your legal defence. The presence of the lawyer is primarily to determine if you should do an interview, how you should answer any questions you do agree to and ensure that the police follow the law when processing you.
2. Counselling you on a path forward
The other function of engaging a lawyer when being questioned by police is to work out a path forward for dealing with the charges against you. This can involve negotiations with police regarding plea deals and securing bail.
Without a lawyer at your side, you won’t know how to navigate the complexity of the situation and will likely only make things worse for yourself. If you run your mouth in front of the police without your lawyer by your side instructing you on what not to say, you may end up with a much harsher punishment should you be found guilty.
3. Providing you with moral support
During the time you are detained by police, it can be a scary situation and it can feel like nobody is on your side. Having a reliable criminal lawyer with you throughout the process helps you feel more secure that your vulnerability can’t be exploited.
As you can see, if you are arrested there’s no shortage of important reasons to engage a lawyer and have them present during any discussions you have with the police.