While you may be thinking there’s no harm in doing so, you need to realize that you can actually get yourself in a lot of trouble by speaking with police. The reason is that you don’t know exactly what they are investigating. They may be investigating you directly, or investigating a crime in the neighborhood or at your job. There’s no way to truly know what they are investigating and, besides the fact they are trained in interrogation tactics, they can lie to you in order to get you to talk.
You may think you are innocent and have nothing to hide, but speaking with them can implicate you in a crime and before you know it you’re in handcuffs facing criminal charges. There are two examples I can give you to show why this is a bad idea.
The first example is one where you may have been close to some type of criminal conduct or wrongdoing (say through a friend or at work) but didn’t know that it’s a crime or that a crime occurred. By talking with them you have just given them more evidence to use against you, or even worse, you have given them enough to arrest you.
The second example is one where they are simply asking around the neighborhood about a particular person. You have no idea why and have nothing to hide in this scenario. As a result you start talking about your neighborhood and neighbors. When you get to your neighbor, John, you start venting about your relationship with him and why you don’t particularly like him. Little did you know they are investigating a crime where John is the victim and there’s no physical evidence linking anyone to the crime at the moment. Your words are then used by the police to develop motive and justification for the crime that was committed against John. Plus, while you were home watching Netflix, you live by yourself and do not have anyone to provide an alibi defense for you. You are now arrested and charged with this crime and your words are being used against you as evidence of guilt.
Police Can Lie to You
The police are trained to make small talk in order to make you feel comfortable and begin speaking with them. They are trained in interrogation tactics that can make you confess to a crime you didn’t commit. You’ll never quite know where police are trying to take you and while you might think you’re answering one-percent truthfully and innocently, they are slowly building a case against you.
They Cannot Offer Anything
Oftentimes police will say things like “we just want your side of the story,” or “talk to us and we’ll make sure nothing happens to you.” This is not true. Police cannot offer you anything. They do not control the outcome of a case, the prosecutor does. Any threat of “talk to us or else” is just that, a threat.
Remain Silent and Get an Attorney
You cannot get into more trouble because you decide to not speak with police. It is your constitutional right to remain silent or have an attorney present before answering any questions. Think of it this way: they already have enough to arrest you and talking will just give them more evidence to use against you or they do not have enough to arrest you and speaking with them will give them what they need. You gain nothing by speaking with police. Especially not before consulting an experienced criminal defense attorney.