Do You Talk to the Police or Not?

You have the right to remain silent. Use it. Or don’t… whatever. Do what you want. Just don’t believe law enforcement officers when they tell you that you’ll be rewarded for your honesty. You won’t. At least, not in the way that you think.  You may be rewarded with smiles from the friendly officer and a lightened conscience to take home with you.  They are not questioning you for the fun of it, though. They are gathering evidence. They will use your words against you in order to convict you. That’s their job. If you live a healthy productive life, you will be rewarded. With eventual death. If you are honest with the police, you will be rewarded. With time in jail. Reward is a complicated matter.

I’m certainly not saying that a person should not be honest with the police. Notice, though, that I can only express that thought with a double negative. The prospect is complex. I am urging you to contemplate the depth and consequences of that very situation. Have you ever asked yourself what you would do if you won the lottery? If aliens invaded? If we reverted to the dark ages?  If your car went off a bridge into deep water? If you awoke and were the opposite gender?  If you started to age backwards?  If the world filled with water?  If bacon were poison? If you didn’t have to sleep? If the only way to procreate was by eating another human? Of course you have. Well, here’s a good one to add to your list: what would you do if you committed a crime and were under investigation by the police?

If you are reading this right now, then you are probably not in jail. It’s not that they don’t have internet in jail, or that jails are full of illiterates—a satirical blog about legal matters is just unlikely to be the aim of an inmate’s limited time on the porn filled web. Since you’re not in jail, it’s not too late for you to imagine how you would behave in the face of that threat. You’ve committed a crime.  Pick whatever sort of misdeed that suits your personality. You like to drink? You got a DUI. You like nice things?  Theft. You like animals? Sodomy. Whatever you think fits. No judgment here. You did this thing and the police have reason to suspect you. They call you on the phone and ask if you’ll come in to the station and speak with them. What do you do?

You could say, “no thanks, I’d rather not.” I wouldn’t recommend the more commonly used “call me when you’ve got a f**king warrant.”  It tends to raise shackles unnecessarily.  Or you could choose to go in and talk to the police.  This is really the critical step in your path.  If you decide to visit the police, then you are going to talk to them about your crime.  They’re not going to have you in to tour the newly remodeled barracks.  They’re not going to sit down at a table with you for a quick game of mancala.  And just imagine how awkward it would be if you arrived and said “hello, I’m here, but I’m not going to say anything.”  Then you just stare at them as though you’re visiting a coma patient in the hospital?  That’s not going to happen.  A police officer’s stare is better than yours.  His stare originates three feet above the gun on his belt.  Three feet below your eyes hang your hands and you’ve already started peeling the cuticles away from your flesh as you fidget under the officer’s gaze.

So if you decided to go to the police station, then you’ve decided to confess.  That is what you will do there.  No one goes to an ice cream parlor, proclaims they haven’t eaten carbs in years and walks out.  They eat a fudge sunday and enjoy the hell out of it.  You will confess and then maybe go to jail.  But that’s ok, if that’s the path you’ve chosen.  It will be marked as a loss for the Defendant (you), but it’s useful to think about what kind of loss you would wish to undergo.

Losses can be quick and painful, like Miley Cyrus losing her dignity on the VMAs or they can be long and painful, like Lance Armstrong losing his Tour titles after years of impersonating a harangued Hercules.  This scenario presupposes that you are already a suspect.  The police will keep calling you.  They will talk to your friends.  They will read your Facebook posts.  Your mom will find out.  It’s a different kind of incarceration.  More internet access, though.  And you can go to the ice cream parlor whenever you want.

I can’t tell you the right answer to this question.  The legal world is made of conundrums.  It’s the lifeblood of an adversarial system.  One can always find reasons why their side proposes the better choice.  Rarely can either choice be accurately described as “good.”  Grandma died and the judge says that Aunt Phyllis should inherit the porcelain dolls, not cousin Sue.  The kids will have to alternate Halloweens at mom’s, where they dress up and trick or treat, and dad’s, where they sit in the dark and pray for the neighbors’ souls.  Jeremy was brutally murdered and the jury find’s Pamela not guilty because someone did it, but it wasn’t her.  Like “reward”, “win” and “loss” are difficult to define within that context.  A person can always try to make the best out of a bad situation, though.  And just like when your car propels into the icy river, it’s always best to have a plan. So, now you decide. Do you want to talk to the police or not? If you do, you will be arrested. If you don’t . . . they wont stop investigating you.

1 Comment

  1. Daniel

    September 22, 2013 at 2:43 pm

    Come on Ryan, this website isn’t a legal brief that should be as perfect as possible. Nitpicking has its place, but not here. The only thing I would say different than B. Lawyer is, “I *can* tell you the right answer.” Do not talk to the police. If you talk to the police, take a good lawyer. If the lawyer tells you to talk to the police (even in the lawyer’s presence), get a different lawyer.

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