If the police want to question you, they are not your friends. There are certainly times when the presence of police can be invaluable, such as when someone tries to harm you or a loved one. However, when the police want to ask you questions, they are adversaries.
Instinctively, many people try to please authority figures when under stress. They believe that if they seem cooperative, the police may “take it easy on them,” or “cut them a break.” This is extremely unlikely. Instead, they are likely to later use your words to bury you. They want to talk to you because they are looking to gain the information necessary to arrest you.
The police and investigators are very good at getting suspects to make damaging statements, or even confess. Evidence is great, but nothing beats a confession. If police smell weakness, they may come across as more friendly–or alternatively, they may turn up the heat and become more aggressive. These guys are professionals, and given enough time, they will get you to say something that you will regret–something that will make your future lawyer smack her forehead.
Of course it’s easy now to say that you will remain silent. Doing it in the real world is quite a bit more difficult. You may be facing an angry, aggressive, threatening officer–armed with a gun. It is important to be prepared for this reality ahead of time, and to make sure that you don’t give in under the pressure. Remember: you wish to remain silent, and you want an attorney. Say that and say no more.
Clients sometimes ask me it will make them look guilty if they refuse to answer questions, or assert their right to an attorney. The answer is no. While it is a crime to lie to the police, you have a right under the US Constitution to remain silent. You can’t even be criticized for making the decision not to talk. In fact, if the case goes to trial, the jury won’t even hear about your choice to remain silent. Police cannot testify you that you refused sobriety tests, refused to answer their questions, or asserted your right to counsel.
You’ve been given these rights for your own protection. These rights belong to you. Protect yourself, stay strong and don’t give them away.