Statements individuals make with the best intentions of helping law enforcement agencies or simply telling the truth can, unfortunately, come back to haunt them later on. These statements can be pulled apart, dissected, and used to prove a person was involved in certain activities, or that they committed a certain crime. As a result, people need to be really careful about what they say to police officers and to understand the purpose behind their questioning, and how they might use a person’s answers. A Virginia criminal lawyer can help witnesses understand these risks, and to avoid making any incriminating statements.
When anybody is asked to speak with a police officer in relation to a criminal investigation, one of the biggest concerns that they may have is that something they say might be misconstrued. Even if the things they say might seem completely innocent from their perspective, there is the possibility that those statements could provide evidence against them later on.
For this reason, it is often a good idea to have an attorney present even if an individual is only telling the police what they saw. Asking to have an attorney present or asking to speak with an attorney during an interview with police officers does not demonstrate bad faith or reluctance to cooperate. Although the police might tell a person that asking for an attorney implies they have something to hide. In reality, they just want to get the person to talk freely, without an attorney present. A person asking for an attorney does not actually imply bad faith, but is instead an effective way to make sure that a person protects themselves from any future ramifications in the criminal justice system.
When prepping witnesses for trial, a criminal attorney will want to know a few things. Number one, if the witness was involved in some type of criminal activity, the attorney could help them decline to answer police questions or answer them in such a way as to protect them from criminal liability. Number two, if the witness is involved in some kind of criminal activity and they are charged regardless of whether or not they spoke with police, sometimes the information can be leveraged to help convince the prosecutor to give them some type of immunity, to drop the charge, or reduce the charge. That is something a local criminal defense attorney can help facilitate between the prosecutor and the witness and help protect them from putting themselves at risk for potential prosecution.
There are various ways that speaking with a potential witness in advance assists an attorney to prepare for any number of eventualities down the road. To help witnesses prepare for any type of situation where they are going to be speaking with law enforcement, it is important to find out the extent of what they know about the criminal matter as much as possible. After a witness has spoken to police, a lawyer can help them unpack the questions they were asked to answer and what potential charges could be coming down the pipeline so that they are aware of the types of investigations, or the types of actions that police officers may take. This can sometimes be helping the witness to understand there’s going to be a warrant for their arrest, facilitating the turn in process, or situations where they need to remove themselves from the situation in order to not continue to create incriminating evidence.