3 things to know if police call and they want to question you

Explain what to do and help PNC understand why it is important to reach out to an attorney before talking to the police. Enourage PNC to give us a call.

Call (425) 264-8637!

In the first twenty minutes or so of David Chase’s follow-up on The Wire, We Own This City, his Baltimore cops cover virtually every cop interview cliché there is:

Hey, help me help you.

You’re only making it harder on yourself.

The best deal you’re ever going to get is now.

You’re buddy has already given you up.

It’ll be so much worse if you don’t . . .

Not talking right now, right here makes you look guilty.

Why do you need a lawyer if you have nothing to hide?

Then there’s the one that happens before the interview:

Hey, c’mon down to the station, we just want to clear a few things up

Or

We need your help with . . .

Here’s the thing – just because they’re cliches doesn’t mean they’re not true and used every day. Because they are.

Trivia question: what charge sent Martha Stewart to federal prison and Roger Clemons through two major trials. Hint: it wasn’t insider trading or steroid abuse. It was lying to the FBI and Congress.

The FBI, Congress, your local police department – they can all, according to the Supreme Court lie to you when ‘interrogating.’ It is a crime to lie to them.

Talking to the police without an attorney present is always a mistake. Always. It’s like walking into a minefield without a guide with the map.

In the words of Jimmy McGill (soon to be Saul Goodman) when a client asks, “Won’t I look guilty showing up with a lawyer?” – “You know what really makes you seem guilty? Getting arrested.”

The United Kingdom changed their police interrogation rules in 1984 after a series of coerced confessions not only made the news and resulted in dismissals but made some very good movies.

The UK recognized, after analyzing hundreds of recorded interviews that, “contrary to popular belief, [most police were] unskilled as interviewers. Many officers went into the interview room assuming guilt. It’s incredibly damaging to suggestive subjects if they know the officer doesn’t believe them. But also it means that as an interviewer, you only listen to certain parts of the evidence. You ignore things that don’t fit with your script. If there’s strong evidence in a case, that’s your best chance of getting a charge – quite simple really.”

That’s confirmation bias and it’s prevalent in police interrogations here, in Washington State and the U.S..

The U.K. standardized police interviews across the nation. Interviewees are warned up front what level of seriousness the interview is – the police issue ‘cautions’ before the process begins. A free lawyer is provided if asked for.

As Dr. Andy Griffiths – Detective Superintendent, Sussex Police, UK writing for The Innocence Project puts it:

Police in the UK don’t see interviewing as a secret process, and we don’t feel the need to hide interview techniques. The law does not allow lying to suspects, under any circumstances. Officers are trained to concentrate on probing a suspect’s account, seeking to confirm or negate by comparison with other known information. When the suspect knows that I can’t lie—my job is on the line if I do—I get more information.

We are a long way away from that. Until we get there, do not talk to the police without an attorney present.