So a detective has called you up and invited you down to the local police sheriff’s department for an interview? When you arrive they will tell you that you are free to go at any time, and that they just want to get your side of the story. THIS IS A TRAP. Here’s how it works.
First, they only tell that you are free to go so they do not have to Mirandize you. You have to be under arrest and/or in custody for your Miranda warnings to apply. By telling you that you are free to go, they can ask whatever they want without telling you about your right to remain silent, or right to end questioning, or right to have an attorney present. They do this because the do not want you to have a lawyer there. They want to trick you into confessing.
Second, the “get your side of the story” line is meant to diffuse your anxiety. The detective wants you to think that they are going to help you and that they have an open mind as to what you tell them. Here’s the deal, before you show up the detective has already decided if they think you are guilty. Nothing you say will change their mind. They are going to take parts of your story that fit their theory of how are you guilty and assume those are true, they are also going to assuming you are lying if you make statements that don’t fit their theory that you are guilty. It is a lose-lose situation.
They will keep pressing you to “tell the truth” even when you are. What they mean is “you better confess to what we think you did.” The detective may offer to speak to the judge, or prosecutor to help if you cooperate. Detectives are not empowered to make binding agreements to resolve a criminal case. Only prosecutors can do that, and you need a defense lawyer to work that out. There is almost no chance that after you give a statement the detective will do anything to help you. They will laugh about your confession while they file for the arrest warrant and forward your case to the prosecutor. They will not tell the judge anything to help you. To them you are a criminal who was dumb enough to come in without a lawyer. Don’t be that guy. Lawyer up.
DETECTIVES ARE ALLOWED TO LIE TO YOU
Really, with very few exceptions the police can lie about what evidence they have against you in order to get you to confess. They can say that other witnesses have come forward naming you as the guilty party. They can say they have your DNA or fingerprints. They can say that they have video of you committing the crime. Anything they want to get you to confess. It’s a game, and you don’t have to play along. One limited is expectation is that the police can’t falsify government records and show those to you to make you confess. Remember, this is Texas, and we convict innocent people here with alarming regularity. Our criminal appeals courts are dominated by pro-conviction ex-prosecutors who have created one of the worst criminal justice system in America.
THIS IS AN INTERROGATION, NOT AN INTERVIEW
Have you ever wondered why innocent people confess to crimes they didn’t commit? One reason is that the interrogation techniques used by law enforcement are designed to break you down and make you say things that aren’t true. The Reid Technique is one example. Again, you are not prepared to handle an advanced interrogation, you don’t have a chance.
IF A DETECTIVE CALLS YOU CALL A LAWYER
This is a legal emergency. You need a local defense lawyer, someone who knows the local detectives and CID division. Someone who can help you plan out how to proceed. Detectives understand that if you have a lawyer they can not continue to harass you to get you to come in. Your lawyer can make them leave you alone. That is what you need. I’ve written about this before, but it bears repeating. NEVER DISCUSS A CRIMINAL OFFENSE WITH LAW ENFORCEMENT EVER. ALWAYS HIRE AN ATTORNEY FIRST.