What should you do when a Las Vegas Metro detective is contacting you?
If you are suspected of committing a crime, you will likely be contacted by a detective from the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. What should you do? That is what I will explain in this article.
Many of my clients come to me after they have been arrested. The police investigation is over at that point. Unfortunately, many of these people have damaged their case considerably by talking to police. Most people know that they have a constitutional right to remain silent and don't have to talk to police. But they do anyway. Why? Many times, people think they can talk their way out of getting charged with a crime. And remaining silent and hiring an attorney— lawyering up," as it is sometimes called—makes a person look guilty, right? Absolutely. Remaining silent will make the detective investigating the crime more suspicious of you. But guess what? The detective probably thinks you're guilty anyway, and nothing you can say (or not say) is going to change his mind.
Other clients come to me when a detective is knocking on their door and leaving them voicemails, saying things like "I just want to get your side of the story." Sometimes people ask if they can hire me to sit down with them while they give a voluntary statement to the detective. While I do represent people before they are charged with crimes, I won't sit in a room and let my client be grilled by a detective. If I contact the detective for you, it will be to tell them you are denying the accusations and to cancel your meeting with the police investigator, if one has been scheduled already.
Why not sit down with a detective to give my side of the story with a lawyer present?
Because my advice for every question would be not to answer, so it makes more sense for me to just tell the detective over the phone that you are exercising your constitutional right to remain silent. Anything else is going to be a waste of time. There is nothing to be gained from meeting with a police detective, whether or not you are represented by an attorney.
You may think that by engaging in a dialogue with a detective, we will learn valuable information about the allegations, such as what evidence the police might have or who is accusing you. In television shows like "Law and Order," the cops always seem to lay out all their evidence for the accused. This is not the way it works in real life.
Detectives don't want you to know what they know, because giving away that information would reveal to the criminal suspect what the police don't know! If a Las Vegas Metro detective is telling you about specific evidence against you, such as DNA, fingerprints, video, or eyewitness identifications, there is a strong chance that this evidence doesn't exist! Which brings us to a fact which many people do not realize: Police are legally allowed to lie to you.
Can detectives really lie to a person suspected of a crime?
Yes, lying is considered a valid police interrogation technique. Why? Because it works. Consider this example. You're suspected of committing a crime, and you sit down to talk with a detective because you don't want to appear guilty. You deny everything. The detective lets you "tell your side of the story." Then he calls you a liar. He claims he has video so he knows you were at the scene of the crime. So why did you lie to him? He tells you that he doesn't necessarily believe you committed the crime, but he has hard evidence that you were there. So you admit that you weren't totally truthful, and come up with an explanation for why you were at the crime scene. Now you've done two things to damage your case. First, you've admitted to lying. Second, you placed yourself at the scene of the crime. But what about that video evidence? Chances are, it didn't actually exist! Same with the magical fingerprint evidence or DNA evidence that the police claim they have. It's just a ruse to trick you into making incriminating statements.
A detective interview is not really about "finding out the truth." It's about shoring up the case against a person the detective already believes is guilty. I don't mean to imply that police interrogations are unhelpful to the investigation of crimes or the conviction of suspects in criminal cases. On the contrary, police interviews of suspects frequently provide evidence that is very useful to prosecutors. In a criminal case, the accused person's "confession" to a crime is often the strongest evidence in the whole case—even though false confessions are a real and proven phenomenon. In fact, frequently, the criminal defendant's own incriminating words can all but ensure his conviction.
Yes, confessions can sometimes be suppressed (i.e., if a confession was coerced or otherwise obtained illegally). But judges are reluctant to allow alleged criminals to get off on such "technicalities," and so the suppression of confessions is rare. The bottom line is, when a suspect talks to police, he is almost certainly going to hurt his case, if not ensure his conviction. Because there is one more very important thing to consider when deciding whether to talk to police investigators: whether the detective will accurately report what the suspect says.
Will a detective lie about a suspect's confession?
As I explained above, many of my clients come to me after talking to detectives without legal counsel. And when the yare ultimately charged with a criminal offense, my clients frequently report to me that their supposed "confessions" to police never happened, or that their statements were reported inaccurately in the detectives' reports. In other words, I have been told by countless clients that police investigators lied about what they supposedly said.
Is it possible that all my clients are lying to me? Is it possible that they all confessed and are now denying it? I guess anything is possible. But keep in mind, many if not most "confessions" are not audio or video recorded, and so the only record of what the criminal defendant supposedly said (and confessed to) is a police report written by a detective, sometimes days after the alleged confession occurred. And detectives know that statements by defendants, whether recorded or not, are admissible at a criminal trial. In other words, a detective can testify at a criminal trial about what a defendant supposedly said (admitted) without any independent corroboration, whether in the form of audio/video recording or another witness who can confirm what was allegedly said.
Obviously, such a rule invites police abuse. Why? Because if a detective thinks you're guilty, he can easily justify bending the truth to help ensure that you get convicted. Even if a detective is not intentionally misrepresenting what a defendant said, he will still be recording in his report what he "remembers" you saying several days ago. Most people are not going to remember accurately (let alone exactly) what a person said several days after the fact, especially if they've heard various accounts of the same incident from many parties, which is often the case when a detective is investigating an alleged crime. The bottom line is, you can never be sure that your statements to police will be represented accurately.
What happens if you don't agree to talk to a detective?
I believe in giving clients straight answers. If you refuse to meet with a Las Vegas Metro detective, you will probably be charged with a criminal offense. Why? Because if you're a suspect in a criminal investigation, then in all likelihood, there is already going to be enough "evidence" for you to be charged with a crime. And if the detective has enough evidence to charge you with a crime, he's going to get an arrest warrant and you'll be fighting criminal charges.
The standard for obtaining an arrest warrant is a finding of "probable cause," which means that the cops and prosecutors have to show, to the satisfaction of the judge signing off on the warrant, that a crime has been committed and that the suspect probably (more likely than not) committed that crime. In practical terms, this is not a high standard.
Refusing to meet with or talk to a detective isn't going to prevent you from getting charged with a crime. But it will prevent police and prosecutors from obtaining additional incriminating evidence against you.
Also, remember that just because an arrest warrant has been issued doesn't mean you have to be arrested. If is possible to have a criminal defense attorney file a motion to recall the warrant or otherwise to allow the defendant to do what's called an "OR walkthrough" and avoid spending time in jail. To learn more about this, read my article about arrest warrants.
So what should I do if a detective is contacting me about some alleged crime?
Doing nothing at all is better than what most criminal suspects do when contacted by the police. Unfortunately, most suspects agree to talk to detectives and end up damaging their case, sometimes beyond repair. So if you don't make incriminating statements to detectives, you're going to be doing better than a majority of criminal defendants.
If you are a suspect in a criminal investigation, you should contact a criminal defense attorney like me. I will tell the detective that we are denying any wrongdoing but declining to meet up, answer questions, take a lie detector test, or otherwise subject you to police interrogation.
Yes, you might end up getting charged with a crime anyway. If the investigation has reached this point, the detective will probably get a judge to sign off on a warrant for your arrest. But I will file a motion in Justice Court to address the criminal charges, which can possibly prevent your arrest and incarceration pending resolution of the charges. And when we do this, we will be able to review all of evidence against you before taking any defensive position or making any statements to police or prosecutors. These are your constitutional rights, and should not be taken lightly or waived without consideration of the long-term consequences.
And keep in mind, while the legal standard for charging you with a crime is relatively low, the legal standard for a criminal conviction is the highest standard in our legal system—the criminal charge must be proven by the prosecution beyond a reasonable doubt.
I can't prevent you from being charged with a criminal offense if you are already a suspect. Any lawyer who tells you otherwise is not being honest. But I can help you present the strongest defense possible. And almost always, refusing to meet with detectives is your best option.
Keep in mind, this is a general guide and doesn't constitute legal advice for any case in particular, including yours. There are exceptions to every general rule. So if you are the suspect of a criminal investigation, you should contact a criminal defense attorney like me, who can give you proper legal advice based on the unique facts of your case.
The contact number on the banner of this website is my personal cell phone number, and you can call or text me at any time to discuss any case or criminal investigation. Consultations are free and I am available on nights, weekends, and holidays, so don't hesitate to contact me.