Cleary Law LLC

Is Someone Obligated To Meet With Police?


One big misconception that many people have is that he or she is obligated to meet with police upon request. Hire an attorney the minute you are under investigation. Law enforcement will use an investigative technique and say, “We just have a few questions. You’re not in any trouble. If you tell us what we want to know, then there won’t be any issues.” Don’t fall for that.

A good police officer does not mind having an attorney sit there with them while someone is being questioned. If the officer is going to use proper questioning techniques, then he does not mind if you request your lawyer. There are times when officers do not use proper techniques and would rather bully, lie and intimidate people, especially with younger people or those with a lower IQ. That is why we have false confessions. Officers are well trained in how to make people so desperate to make the situation go away they will confess to things they did not do. Watch “Making of a Murderer” to see this technique in a real-life situation.

Having a lawyer there with you is always wise choice. Do not ever just talk to law enforcement without one present. Personally, if I were under investigation, even though I am a lawyer, I would hire another lawyer to help in my case.

Having a lawyer there with you is always wise choice. Do not ever just talk to law enforcement without one present. Personally, if I were under investigation, even though I am a lawyer, I would hire another lawyer to help in my case.

Are Police Allowed To Lie Or Mislead People During Questioning?

The Supreme Court has said “yes,” police are allowed to mislead or lie to people during questioning. They will often tell the individual that is being question that your co-defendant already ratted you out so you might as well be honest with us. Or they will sometimes falsely tell a suspect that they have evidence, your DNA or fingerprints, etc. They are allowed to do that, as seen on many cop shows on television. Usually we are critical of cop shows and the way they depict the law, but sometimes it can be accurate. The bottom line is that police can lie to you and they will. That is another reason you need to remain silent. Remember, you cannot lie to the police. You can refuse to speak but you cannot give false information. That is a crime and will also be used against you in trial. Your refusal to answer questions cannot be used against you in trial.

What is the Difference between Misdemeanor and Felony Charges?

In South Carolina, there is not a meaningful difference between misdemeanor and felony charges. There are some offenses that are misdemeanors that can carry up to ten years in prison, for example. With a felony conviction you cannot own a firearm; however, in reality, if you have a criminal domestic violence conviction, which was a misdemeanor here in South Carolina, you cannot own a firearm either.

Additionally, certain offenses, including misdemeanors can cause a legal resident alien to be deported. 

So when it comes to a misdemeanor or felony, it really does not matter. What matters is the nature of the offense and the length of the potential sentence. People commonly come in and think if they had a misdemeanor, that it can be expunged. In South Carolina there are actually very few offenses that can be expunged includes many misdemeanors. There is often not benefit to pleading to a misdemeanor. There are, of course, certain statutes that are written so as to provide that a felony conviction will prevent you from being able to have a certain license. However, most of them are written in a way that certain misdemeanors will also make it difficult to get a license.

What Do You Tell Clients Contemplating A Guilty Plea?

First of all, you have to remember you are not the best judge as to whether you are guilty or not. The issue is whether the state can prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt. Each crime has certain elements, and each of those have to be proved. Procedural safeguards have to be met. We have clients who think since they blew a 0.16%, they must be guilty. That is not true. There are all sorts of ways to challenge that test. The machine is not perfect as anybody who has ever dealt with machines knows. Juries understand that too. If you go in and throw yourself at the mercy of the court, you are going to get the maximum fine and you are going to have crippling, long-term consequences.

Any good DUI lawyer should be able to have a DUI knocked down to something else, get it dismissed or convince a jury that the state has not proved their case. Particularly with DUIs, people think, if they had a drink or two, they are guilty. No, they are not. Our DUI law says your faculties must be materially and inappreciably impaired. It is not against the law to have a drink and drive. The state has to show that your driving ability was impaired. Therefore, just because you had a drink does not mean you are guilty. That goes for all cases. For example, even if you clearly murdered somebody, there are different levels of murder. There are ways to mitigate the sentence for a murder or for any other crime that is committed. That’s why you need a criminal defense lawyer even if you think you are guilty.

Obviously with other sorts of crimes, there are alternative programs. In South Carolina, we have Veterans Court, Homeless Court, Drug Court, traffic diversion programs, pretrial intervention and alcohol education programs. There are many ways we can keep you from getting a criminal record, even if you feel like you are guilty.

For more information on Meeting with Police, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you’re seeking by calling today.

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