What to Do When Police “Just Want to Talk”

Police interview

If you have been contacted by the police because they “just want to talk” you might feel worried, concerned, or even terrified. Before responding to the police, you should contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer. Having a lawyer on your side during an interview with law enforcement could mean the difference between leaving with your freedom versus spending the night in jail.

Meeting with a Police Officer Could Lead to Your Arrest

Police officers don’t really contact people because they “just want to talk.” More likely, they already have some evidence, or even a suspect, and want to validate their suspicions. There’s a chance they might be contacting you because they think you’re a witness, but you might also be on their list of suspects.

Unfortunately, I’ve seen it too many times - you go to the police station because you want to be helpful. During the interview, you say something that makes the police suspicious. Maybe it was a small mistake, or maybe you accidentally confess to having committed a crime. Then you’re charged with a crime, placed under arrest, and your friends and family are told they can visit you in jail or see you at the arraignment.

Police officers are masters at getting people to admit things. They ask the same question again and again, in slightly different ways, looking for inconsistencies in your answers. Then they point out those small differences to show that you are an unreliable witness, that you’re lying, or that you were even a part of the crime.

To protect yourself, it’s best to contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer before you respond to a police officer’s request for an interview. A criminal defense attorney can assess the officer’s request, and may even be able to reach out to law enforcement to learn more about why you’re being questioned in the first place. A lawyer can protect you by negotiating favorable terms before you agree to the interview, review anything you might need to turn over to the police to make sure it doesn’t accidentally incriminate you, and help you during the interview by making sure you understand the officer’s question and that you don’t say anything that could expose you to criminal charges.

Some people worry that bringing a lawyer with them to a police interview makes them look guilty. But bringing a lawyer with you doesn’t make you look guilty - it makes you look smart. Criminal cases are built on evidence, not appearances, and having a lawyer with you during an interview isn’t evidence - it’s protecting yourself.

When Should You Speak with the Police?

Of course, there are times when you should talk to the police, like if you’re the victim of a crime, or if a police officer approaches you on the street and you’ve done nothing wrong.

If a police officer approaches you on the street and you’ve done nothing wrong, asking for a lawyer is likely to escalate things, especially if you can answer the officer’s question in as few words as possible so the officer will let you go.

If you’re reaching out to the police because you have information about a crime or were the victim of criminal activity, it is unlikely that you’re a suspect and there’s little risk in speaking with a police officer.

But if there’s any chance that you could have been involved with something illegal, it’s better to consult with a lawyer before you talk with the police.

And, of course, if a police officer reads you your Miranda rights you should definitely stop talking, tell the police officer you are invoking your right to remain silent, and that you want a lawyer.

Remember - you are under no obligation to speak to the police, and police officers are allowed to lie to you to get you to admit something. Police officers want you to say as much as possible. It makes their job easier.

Also remember that police officers have no control over sentencing. Don’t believe them if they tell you the sentence will be lighter if you cooperate now. The prosecutor and the judge are the ones who have control over sentencing decisions. The police officer’s job is to gather evidence to make an arrest.

Criminal Defense Lawyer Justin Campbell Protects You and Your Rights

The Campbell Law Firm can help by offering advice about whether and when to talk to the police, and negotiating favorable terms to avoid prosecution or for a lighter sentence if you do cooperate. Attorney Justin Campbell knows and understands the law, and will draw on his years of experience to help you make the right decision under the circumstances. And if you are facing criminal charges, he will work hard to defend you, investigating and challenging evidence the prosecution obtains to refute the charges against you or present your situation in the most positive light.

If you are under investigation or facing criminal charges in Washington, criminal defense attorney Justin Campbell is here to help. Learn why clients choose us, read reviews from former clients, then contact the Campbell Law Firm by calling (360) 588-4111, emailing info@lawjrc.com, or completing our online form.

Located in Anacortes, the Campbell Law Firm proudly represents people accused of crimes in all courts in Skagit County, Island County, San Juan County, and in Anacortes, Mount Vernon, Burlington, Sedro-Woolley, Oak Harbor, Coupeville, and Friday Harbor.