You must resist every temptation to talk to the police, prosecutor and victim. Once you have been arrested these people have taken the position that you must be prosecuted. In fact, once you have been arrested, with very few exceptions, your case cannot be dismissed unless you go to court. Further, the participants in your arrest (the police, prosecutor and victim) will use anything you say to your disadvantage. In other words, even your most conciliatory statements or offers to pay damages will be considered admissions of guilt.
Worse still is the very real likelihood that your statements will not even be remembered accurately.
If you explain what happened to family or friends, with only one exception those people can be summonsed to court and forced to repeat your statements at your trial. The only exception is your spouse — and even your spouse may be summonsed and forced to take the witness stand against you unless your spouse testifies in open court that he or she does not wish to testify. Your spouse may have to get a lawyer to assert the decision not to testify. And, unfair as it may seem, even if your spouse wants to remain silent there are situations where your spouse cannot refuse to testify. If the judge tells your spouse to testify, and he or she refuses to do so, your spouse can be sent to jail until he or she agrees to follow the judge’s order.
In some situations, a police officer may tell you that if you cooperate without contacting a lawyer, things will go easier for you. Perhaps the officer will want you to become an informant. Perhaps the officer will want you to help him get evidence against other people. The officer may tell you that he can’t make you any promises but he will put in a good word for you with the prosecutor or judge. The officer may tell you that you have to decide now, without an attorney, and that the train is leaving the station and you will miss the train if you do not cooperate now.
You must resist the temptation to make decisions without a lawyer. Without a lawyer you have absolutely no guarantee that your honest attempt to cooperate will be considered an honest attempt to cooperate. Without a lawyer you may have no written agreement with the police. Even if you do get something in writing, without a lawyer you have no way of knowing whether the written document fully protects you. Perhaps most importantly, without a lawyer you have no way of knowing whether the police have enough admissible evidence to convict you, you have no way of knowing what your probable sentence would be, and you have no way of knowing how safe you will be from the people you will be cooperating against.
In other words, without a lawyer you are in a very weak negotiating position, you have too little information to make an informed and intelligent decision, and you may be placing your self at serious risk.
Therefore, you should not confess, make statements about the case to the police or prosecutor or anyone without the assistance of an attorney. Therefore, you should not agree to become an informant or act as an informant, before discussing your case with an attorney.
In short, when you are asked to make statements or decisions without an attorney you should politely decline to do so. Instead, tell the officer or prosecutor that you would like to consult with an attorney before making a decision.
If you have already made statements about your case to the police or prosecutor without the help of a lawyer, you should consult with a lawyer now in order to minimize your risks.
This information begins to make you a true and equal partner in your defense. Now, let’s get to work.