Investigation Target? Let's talk

January 25, 2018

Picture a game of baseball where you’re blindfolded and you don’t know the score. You have to swing the bat at pitches you don’t know are coming. If you can understand that kind of confusion, then you understand the lead up to the prosecution of an Iowa criminal offense where you are the suspect, the investigative phase where the prosecutorial target may not even know that he is being asked to help police build a case against himself. ​


It’s been weeks since this person was interrogated by the police—I know, I know—they called it an “interview.” But it was an interrogation, trust me. Witnesses are interviewed. Suspects are interrogated. And observed for hocus pocus non-verbal cues and the use of dissociation to deflect personal involvement in allegedly inculpatory acts. If law enforcement was trying to “get your side of the story” to dispel or corroborate an accusation against you by someone else then you were interrogated. What the suspect said was likely recorded. Even if it wasn’t recorded, his statements, or what the officer believes his statements were, will be included in a written report. In the event that the matter is prosecuted, the officer will be called to testify to those statements even though the suspect and his family erroneously thinks that they are “hearsay” about what the interrogation target said during a chat in his kitchen, at the front door, in a patrol car, or at the stationhouse.


Someone questioned by the police can, must, and should invoke the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney. Thank you, Officer Friendly, but no, thank you. I want a lawyer and do not wish to be further interrogated. What’s that? No, I don’t need a phone book. I want a lawyer.


Officer Friendly thanks the suspect and sends them packing. No, they’re not under arrest. This was just a free soda and some light conversation. And then the waiting begins.


So now what? How can the interrogation target stop a wrongful prosecution? He can’t. The only thing he can do is become more legally informed and, if possible, hire an attorney to represent him ahead of time at the initial appearance if and when he is arrested. Remember that if he waits to obtain court appointed counsel, that lawyer will be appointed to represent him only after he is charged. How does he know what they have against him? He doesn’t. Should he call and ask to speak to the detective so everyone can “share information?” No. Anything the officer tells you is unreliable; officers are legally allowed to lie to suspects to get them to be more forthcoming. How can he gauge the process against him? He can’t.


Again, the only thing he can do is become more legally prepared, more legally informed, less likely to incriminate himself, and more likely to invoke his right to an attorney and right to remain silent. In fact, certain of it.

This is David A. Cmelik Law PLC and this is all this law firm does every day. There is no writing wills, no dividing property in a dissolution of marriage, and no drafting contracts in a real estate deal. If you or a loved one has been arrested for a crime in Iowa, contact David A. Cmelik Law PLC for a free initial consultation by a law firm limited exclusively to Iowa criminal law.


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