Why Shouldn’t I Talk to Police if I am Innocent?

Police car on the street

Why shouldn’t I talk to police if I am innocent? Here’s a good one that comes up, if you are innocent, why shouldn’t you talk to police? It’s a great question. It’s one I get asked all the time, especially when I post either videos or comment on something saying, “You should never talk to police voluntarily without a lawyer.” So why is that the case? Well, if you want to know the answer, stick around and I’ll talk to you after this.

Happy Friday, everybody. I hope you’re enjoying your week. And like I said in the intro, this week I’m talking to you about something I’ve talked before in recent videos or in past videos about why you should never voluntarily talk to police without a lawyer. And every time I say that, or every time I post that, I generally will get the same question, which is, “Well, what if I’m really and truly innocent? Why should I be worried about talking to the police?” And it’s a great question, right? It’s counterintuitive. You want to get in there, you want to clear things up as quickly as possible. And so you say, “I’m just going to go and sit down with them, tell them what happened and everything’s going to be fine.”

Well, here’s why that’s typically a bad idea. There’s a couple of different reasons, right? Well, the first one is pretty straightforward. It’s that you don’t have to. It’s your right to not do that. And so I’ve always been of the opinion, why waive rights that you have just because somebody asked you to waive them, right? I mean, you have a right to possess firearms. So if somebody came to you and said, “Hey, I don’t want you possessing a firearm.” I bet a whole bunch of you, especially here in Texas would say, “Well, too bad, I’m going to,” right? And that’s fine. There’s nothing wrong with that.

Same thing goes for your right to remain silent. Is you have that right. Just because somebody comes up and says, “Hey, I don’t want you to exercise that right,” why should you say, “Okay, fine. I guess I won’t.” No, that’s your right. You don’t have to do that. So that’s the first and really the most straightforward one. The second one is more of a why does it make sense logistically or strategically? Well, when you go in and you speak to police officers voluntarily, remember anything and everything you say can, and generally will be used against you. So when you go in there without a lawyer you’re risking a couple different things.

You’re risking the fact that maybe you say something that gets misconstrued or gets interpreted an incorrect way. And now you’ve put yourself in a predicament because they’re either twisting your words or they’re misinterpreting something you said to mean something that you didn’t mean by. And now you’ve put yourself in a bigger problem because you’ve gone in and given them that statement. Okay, that’s number one. Number two, what if you are completely innocent of whatever crime they’re investigating, but for some reason you go in and you unknowingly admit to committing some other crime, maybe it’s a crime you didn’t even know was a criminal offense, but now you’ve admitted to it.

They hear you admitted to it, and now they can charge you with that crime. Okay. I’ve had that happen. That is a very real thing that has happened to clients of mine. They go in saying, “Well, I want to talk to you about this murder you’re investigating. I had nothing to do with it.” So they go through their side of the story and in the process they admit to two or three other crimes that they didn’t even really know they were committing at the time. So that’s a very real possibility. And number three is you always have to remember that police officers can, and more often than not will lie to you. They’re allowed to do that. And in fact, the Supreme Court of the United States has said that it’s legal for them to do that.

And so you run the risk of you going in. They’re going to be very nice. They’re going to say, “Look, this is just a formality,” things like that. “You have nothing to worry about. We just want to know. We just want to clear this up.” Generally speaking, that’s not always the case. That’s not always true. And most times it’s not true. They don’t have to tell you what information they have. And they don’t even really have to tell you what crime they’re investigating. Maybe they tell you, “Come in, we’re talking to you about this murder,” but they’re not. They’re not looking at a murder at all. They’re looking at some other crime.

And by going in, and now you’ve either confessed to the crime that they’re actually looking into, or you’ve made a statement that is contradictory to information that they already know. And so you’ve put yourself in a position where they think you’re lying to them. So all of those are things that if a lawyer is with you, I or whoever that lawyer is, can shield you from that. Because things that I say to police can’t be used against you. Statements I make can’t be used against you. I can get more information from the officer and make a good determination on does it make sense to go in and sit down and answer their questions?

Or does it make more sense for me as the lawyer to put together information in either a written packet or a letter or a presentation and present that to the officer or the detective on your behalf, right? I’ve done that many times before. So these are reasons why if you’re innocent it makes the most sense not to go in and voluntarily surrender to an interview, but to talk to a lawyer. And more often than not when people are saying, “I don’t want to do that,” it’s because they think, “Well, the officer’s going to think that if I do that I’m guilty.” Not the case at all.

Most good detectives, most good police officers understand what a lawyer’s role in this process is. They know I’m not out there to jam them up. I’m not out there to hinder them really. The only job I have is to protect you. And if you’re innocent, that means helping them figure out what the truth is, helping them with whatever information they need so they can clear your name and move on to the real suspect. So they know if I’m doing my job, it’s not necessarily going against what they want to see happen. It’s I’m doing what I can to help them move their investigation along and to get you out of the crosshairs. Okay. So hope that’s helpful. I’ll cut it here. I could talk again, just like any of these other topics.

I could talk for another 30 minutes, but I’m not going to. If you have any questions or you want any more detail about this or anything else, or if there’s something specific you want to see me cover in a future video, make sure to send me an email, or contact me here. I try to check those and see if there’s any topics that keep bubbling up that I get asked pretty often. And I’ll try to cover those in a future video. As always, I hope you have a great weekend. It’s been great talking to you and I will see you next week.


Author Bio

James P. Whalen

James P. Whalen is the managing attorney and founder of Whalen Law Office, a Texas criminal defense firm offering personalized legal representation for various federal criminal charges. With a commitment to providing comfort and guidance during challenging times, Mr. Whalen serves as both an attorney and counselor to his clients, helping them navigate their cases while striving to restore normalcy to their lives.

In an inherently unbalanced criminal justice system, Mr. Whalen takes on cases with unwavering dedication. With decades of legal experience, he offers representation across various criminal charges, including white-collar crimes, violent crimes, drug charges, and more. Mr. Whalen’s numerous accolades, including Super Lawyer recognition and board certification in Criminal Appellate Law and Criminal Law, reflect his unwavering commitment to ethical and high-quality legal representation.

LinkedIn | State Bar Association | Avvo | Google