YOU AND LAW ENFORCEMENT:
An arrested scam victim's guide to understanding law enforcement
The police do not interview a person who is under arrest about his or her participation or knowledge of a crime unless that person is suspected of having committed a crime or been a participant in the commission of a crime.
Participation means having an active involvement in, or purposely unreported knowledge of, the crime before, during, or after it was committed. The legal terms are Accessory Before the Fact, Accessory During the Fact, and Accessory After the Fact
Fraud is a theft crime, sometimes only State, sometimes only Federal, sometimes both.
Rule #1: DO NOT lie to the police.
If you are a fraud victim contacted by the police:
1. Unless you are witnessed committing a crime by someone at the scene or by law enforcement and the arrest if proximate to the crime, you cannot be arrested without an arrest warrant signed by a judge. You have a right to read the warrant, and you have the right to a copy of the warrant.
2. Do not accompany the police anywhere until you are arrested. Merely state that you "respectfully decline." If all they want to do is talk to you, they can do so where you are at that moment or at your home.
If at any time you feel uncomfortable about the interview, you have every right to stop it.
If the police are agreeable to an interview at your location of choice, do not speak to them without a witness and, if possible, a tape recorder in plain view. Say, "Do you mind if I tape this conversation?" If the police object to either the witness or the tape recorder, respectfully decline the interview.
You do not have an obligation to accompany the police to their offices, and we don't recommend that you do unless you're going to be looking at mug shots.
If you provide statements about the crime before you are Mirandized, your statements can be used by law enforcement.
Your evidentiary legal protections don't start until you are placed under arrest.
3. Once you have been read your Miranda Rights or Warning, SHUT UP until your attorney is at your side advising you.
4. If you are asked to sign a document agreeing that you have been read your rights and understand them, STOP. Read the document slowly and carefully. Take your time.
Make very sure the document doesn't also contain a waiver of your Miranda Rights and if it does, make very sure you are signing on the correct line. Place your finger on the correct line and sign your name next to your finger. Don't be confused by any line marked with an X.
5. Immediately invoke your right to private consultation with your attorney, court-appointed or otherwise. This is the phrase to use:
"I wish to cooperate with authorities in this process, but I also wish to exercise my Miranda Rights and not make any statements or answer any questions without a lawyer being provided and being present."
Use this phrase each and every time an officer attempts to question you, and each and every time a new officer is presented to you.
6. Do not under any circumstances, sign any document between the time you have read your Miranda Rights or Warning and the time you consult with your attorney except:
(a) The acknowledgment that that your Rights were read to you and that you understand them as explained in 3 above.
(b) The inventory list of what was taken off your person.
(c) In some states if you are fingerprinted, you will be required to sign the fingerprint card.
7. NEVER WAIVE ANY RIGHTS. Do not, under any circumstances, waive your Miranda Rights. Keep your mouth shut. Do not start talking. If you hear yourself talking, stop it. It is possible that if you start answering questions, it may be construed by the District Attorney's Office that you waived your rights.
8. Invoking your Miranda Rights does not mean you will go to jail. No one can advise you that if you do not waive your rights, you will go to jail. That is against the law. It may be termed Intentional Infliction of Emotional or Mental Distress. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intentional_infliction_of_emotional_distress
9. No one can truthfully say, "It will go easier on you if you don't ask for an attorney." That is a myth created in Hollywood.
10. Law and Order and NYPD Blue are not real life. Do not make life-altering decisions based on what you have seen on those shows.
Detectives interview and interrogate bad guys all day, every day. They study interview techniques, interviewing psychology, body language, tone of voice, phrases to watch for, discrepancies and changes in answers. It is their job to elicit a confession of guilt or to elicit incriminating statements from suspects.
They are as skilled at their job as the scammer is who talked you into the fraud. You are a fish out of water. You can incriminate yourself in the blink of an eye with a statement you believe will absolve you of all guilt. Just keep your mouth shut!
The Constitution guarantees the presumption of innocence. In order to do their job with any degree of success, investigating detectives must operate under the presumption of guilt. The presumption of innocence begins in the courtroom, not outside of it.