If you are under investigation for a criminal offense, police officers are not on your side. It is that simple.
Police are highly trained and they know how to ask open-ended, manipulative questions that get you to provide statements that will later be used against you. So, if you are under investigation or are being questioned by the Chicago Police Department or any other law enforcement agency, should you cooperate?
Of course, you have the right to plead the fifth but should you? Pleading the fifth is slang for invoking your Constitutional right under The Fifth Amendment, which protects you from being a witness against yourself in a criminal case.
So, if you have the right to remain silent, why would you talk? Well, if you're like most people, you are probably worried that by not saying anything or by denying police access to your car or home, you are saying that you have something to hide. Police are very good at making people feel this way. They might give you the impression that if you call a lawyer, it makes you look guilty.
But what the police are trying to do is prove you guilty, not prove you innocent.
Whether you are guilty or innocent, the best things you can do when you are under investigation for a crime are:
- Be respectful of the police and remain polite, but exercise your right to remain silent.
- If police ask you whether you have something to hide, you do not have to answer them.
- If police continue to give you a hard time, ask kindly whether you are being detained and tell them that you need to call your lawyer.
- Contact an experienced criminal defense attorney, who can advise you on what to do next. A lawyer should review your specific situation before you provide potentially incriminating information to police.
It can be critical to consult with a lawyer as soon as possible if you are under investigation for a crime. In many cases, early legal involvement can change the outcome of a case dramatically. Your lawyer may be able to restrict police access and prevent charges from ever being filed. Even if you have already been charged, a lawyer can challenge questionable police tactics and the search and seizure. If the police violated your rights or conducted an illegal search, it may be possible to exclude evidence from the case.
Keep in mind that if you are going to plead the fifth or deny police access to search your home or car, remain calm, respectful and do not resist arrest. Do not give police excuses to take anything too far, and call an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.