The Five Most Common Mistakes People Make When Talking to Police

Police WomanPicture this: on one hand, you have a champion chess player, who has played in a thousand matches. She knows every single trick in the book, because she wrote the book. On the other hand, you have a regular person. They may know the rules, but their understanding of chess strategy is rough.

When you’re talking to the police, you are the regular person, and they are the chess champion. You may make a mistake and not even realize it is a mistake. Police-induced false confessions are one of the largest causes of wrongful convictions, according to Cornell University.

Police know how to extract confessions from people. There is no good way to predict what information the police might use. Remember, they have done this many times before. While some officers do want to uphold justice, some simply want convictions to make themselves look better.

As part of our dedication to you, we want you to understand what you should not say to police.

“Yeah, you can search my car.”

Police need a warrant to search you, your home, or your backpack. In order to search your car, they must establish probable cause. This means that the police should have a reason to believe that you have committed, are committing, or will commit a crime. If they have not established probable cause, you should not let them search your car.

People might not understand that the things they have in their car could lead to legal trouble. If you were speeding and have an empty wine bottle in the trunk, an officer may try to pin a DUI charge on you. You may not think much of the joint you have in your glove box, but a police officer might. They will look for items that you might not consider a big deal.

Police can search whatever you give them consent to. Anything they find can and will be used against you. This applies to cars, homes, apartments, bags, anything.

“See, what happened was…”

When police are talking to you, they want information. Law enforcement might not have enough information to detain or arrest you, and you should not give them this info. Even if it seems like a friendly conversation, the police will be examining your story very closely, looking for any small detail or hole.

When you are being questioned by police, you have a right to speak with a lawyer. In a vast majority of situations, it is a good idea to talk to a lawyer before you talk to the police. They know the games the police are playing, and how to beat them.

“How much would it take to make this go away?”

In the state of Illinois, bribery is a Class 2 Felony. It does not matter if you are at a regular traffic stop, are being interviewed by the police, or are in front of a judge.

Do not talk about, joke about, or mention bribes in any way. Even implying that you will give them money in exchange for legal favors will land you in hot water.

“Just so you know, I have a weapon.”

Many police officers think that they have a dangerous job. As the tragic deaths of Philando Castile, Eric Garner, and many others have shown, some officers are prone to using their firearms.

While we will not debate the merits of these cases, you should know that implying you have a weapon could be taken as a threat. Even in cases where the weapon is legal, knowing you have a gun will put police on edge.

“No, I am not going to take that breathalyzer test.”

People often think they can easily beat a DUI charge if they refuse to take the breath test. While the prosecution may have a more difficult time proving a DUI without it, they may still be able to lay out the proper evidence to convict you. Each case is different.

After you have been arrested for DUI, you will be officially requested to submit to blood, breath, and/or urine tests. When a driver is in custody and does not agree to the tests, he or she may have their license suspended for up to three years.

According to law however, you may refuse to take a preliminary breathalyzer test without consequence. There are also other tests, such as the “walk & turn test” and “horizontal gaze nystagmus test” which are known as “field sobriety tests” and can be refused without consequence as well.

When you are in legal trouble, call Mitchell Sexner. He is an experienced Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney, and can help you out today. Call us, day or night, at (312) 644-0444.

Written by Mitchell S. Sexner Last Updated : July 2, 2020