I was watching an episode of Castle (mystery story author helps a detective solve cases) the other day, on hulu.com. After the detective questions a man accompanied by a lawyer, Castle (the author) comments to the detective that things go much smoother without lawyers. The characters in TV crime shows treat attorneys as nuisances, people who hinder investigations by instructing their clients in their best interests.
Castle plays up its newcomer-to-police-work angle by having Castle offer commentary on various “real-life” practices that are different from things seen on TV. Castle is shocked to learn that police officers can lie to people during interrogation. “We caught your accomplice, and now it’s only a matter of who breaks first,” or whatever.
The plots of so many crime shows rely on people allowing the police to search their house/car without a warrant. So many depict those who demand a warrant as people who hinder the investigation. These shows promote poor legal decisions. If you allow the police to search your house without a warrant, you are basically an idiot. (More on that in a bit.)
I saw a rerun of The Mentalist a few days ago. The murderer let slip a detail only the killer would know, and thereby aroused the suspicions of the investigators, eventually resulting in her arrest. If she had only waited until she was with a lawyer, she might not have made such a mistake.
I came across this blag post a while ago, and watched the accompanying videos. The videos come to almost an hour put together, but it was a very enlightening hour. You should go watch it … now. The two persons in the videos, a criminal defense attorney/law professor and a former cop, explain why you should avoid speaking to the cops as much as possible.
They suggest that cops can take any of your statements and twist them into a case against you, even if you are innocent. They can take seemingly harmless statements and manipulate them to act as evidence against you. You should never speak to the police unless you have been arrested and your lawyer is beside you. Any other type of interaction with the cops could turn them on your trail, even if you are innocent. Or worse, they could knowingly manipulate your statements and make it seem as though you are guilty.
Though I do not plan on committing any crimes soon, I plan on following this advice. It may seem suspicious to a jury that you refused to speak to the police until your arrest, but it would be far worse if you ended up making an incriminating statement instead of taking the fifth.