The four things you must do the moment the police get involved:
(1) Stop talking
When being confronted with a police officer for the first time, you may find that you can’t stop explaining yourself to them. The first thing you have to do is take a deep breath and stop talking. The vast majority of people charged with criminal offences are found guilty based on what they say to the police. Don’t make their job any easier than it has to be — zip up and shut up.
(2) Remain silent
You are only legally obligated to tell a police officer your name, date of birth, address, and occupation. Nothing else should ever leave your lips other than “Please call 0800 LET ME GO. I want to talk to my lawyer.”
When you are silent, the police officer will try to get you to make a statement. They may ask you to sign a statement in his book — don’t do it. They may even arrest you and scare you into making a written or video statement — don’t do it. No matter what they throw at you — remain silent.
A statement to the police — written, video, or otherwise — virtually always helps the case against you. No matter what they throw at you, remember that it’s a trick and remain silent.
(3) Call a lawyer immediately
Call a lawyer immediately. The sooner you have a lawyer on your side, the less likely it is that something will go wrong. Remember, there’s a reason why the police don’t like lawyers — it hurts their ability to do their job. Bad for them, but great for us.
So when you see the boys in blue, remember these magic words: “I want to talk to a lawyer. Please call 0800 LET ME GO.”
(4) Take notes
The police must follow very strict procedure when investigating a possible offence. If they don’t follow this procedure exactly, sometimes it means that the charges against you will disappear. For example, an illegally executed search warrant may mean that any material found during the search can’t be used as evidence against you. In drink driving cases if the police don’t do things in a very specific order, your charges will often be dismissed at the defended hearing.
Sometimes police not following procedure is hard to prove. After all it’s their word versus yours. So if you can, pull out your smartphone and record a video. Otherwise, take notes during every conversation with a police officer and send those notes to your email.
When the time comes to prove your case, you’ll be glad you did.
If you follow the Guide to Damage Control then you’re well on your way to having your charges dismissed. If you want to talk to us, feel free to call us immediately on our 24-hour hotline 0800 LET ME GO, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to make an appointment to see us.
UnderArrest.co.nz wish you the best of luck with your proceedings.