If you’re facing legal trouble for something you’ve done, or are accused of having done, don’t make the all too common mistake of thinking you can somehow talk your way out of it, or find a relative or friend who can advise you on how best to deal with your problem.
In fact, police and prosecutors will probably encourage you to talk to them, urging you to share “your side of the story” with them, to help them understand what you did or didn’t do, and why.
One or more of them may even seem fairly decent, friendly types – all the better to tempt you into opening up, to show you’re a good guy or able to joke around a little.
The plain fact is that almost no one has ever talked his or her way out of trouble that way, but that’s been the way a whole lot of people have managed to talk themselves into much deeper trouble. Remember, from the police TV shows and movies you’ve seen, how the Miranda warning goes: something about how anything you say can, and will, be used against you in a court of law?
Whatever social skills or street smarts you might have aren’t what you most need when you’re facing potential legal jeopardy. Trying to navigate your way out of trouble on your own is a little bit like a patient with appendicitis thinking there’s no need to see a doctor, believing his life experience, native smarts and personal charm ought to be enough to pull him through.
Acting on your own is the last thing you need when going up against the authorities in an area where you don’t know the reasons behind the questions you’re being asked, or the ways your answers – including innocent memory lapses, omissions, or even minor inaccuracies in details -- can be used against you by a determined prosecutor.
The first thing you need, in contrast, is an experienced, resourceful criminal defense lawyer.
Unlike you, a veteran criminal defense lawyer knows inside and out, the rules, the procedures, the police interrogation traps, and the prosecutor strategies and trade-offs that can make all the difference in the outcome of your case.
Rather than talk your way into deeper trouble, the very best step you can take is to politely decline to talk with police or prosecutors until after you’ve spoken with your lawyer. There’s a wise old saying: You don’t get in trouble for the things you don’t say.
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