Should I give a statement to the police?

What’s wrong with giving a statement to the police?

If I didn’t do anything wrong, what’s the harm in giving a statement to the police?  Even if somebody doesn’t want to press charges against you after an incident, giving a statement to the police isn’t a good idea.  Why?

Several things…

First, it’s not up to any individual to “press charges” – that is up to the prosecuting agency in the jurisdiction. The case can be forwarded to the DA for review even if the alleged victim doesn’t want to “press charges”.  If the police are investigating, assume it will be sent to the DA for review and the possibility of charges being filed.

Next – even a misdemeanor conviction some harsh consequences. If convicted, there is potential jail time, probation, a conviction on your record indefinitely and other consequences depending on the charges.  Some misdemeanors carry a 10 year ban on firearm possession, restraining orders, mandatory counseling, etc.

Aren’t the police just trying to get my side of things?

Here’s one fairly absolute rule: Do NOT talk to the police. They’re not trying to “get your side of things” or clear you.  For example, if you got in a fight and claim that you hit somebody in self-defense, that’s a legal defense, but it won’t stop you from being investigated, arrested or charged.  The police aren’t trying to help you by making a determination of self defense or not. They’re trying to get an incriminating statement from you – plain and simple.

So if you’re innocent, why not just tell them your side of things? Many reasons. What if you say the wrong thing? What if they mis-hear what you say? What if you’re misquoted? Once they put it in the police report, unless it’s recorded, everybody will assume what’s in the report is true and accurate.

What if your statement contradicts what a witness says? Let’s suppose the witness gave a statement to the police, but their interpretation was wrong, they didn’t see the whole thing or they got the facts wrong? Then, if your statement doesn’t match, they will assume YOU are being dishonest – after all, why would the independent witness lie about what they saw? See where I’m going with this?

Here’s a link to another blog post I wrote with a video about why you shouldn’t call a detective back.

It’s time for a lawyer.

You’re concerned enough to be searching on the internet for information. Probably well-taken concern. I’d suggest you sit down face to face with a good local criminal defense attorney to discuss things in greater detail. In the mean time, don’t make ANY statements to ANYONE about this. No Facebook, Twitter, emails, texts or calls. Assume everything you say is going straight back to the police and will come back to haunt you.

Joe Dane, Orange County Defense Attorney

714) 532-3600

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