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Joseph A. Lombardo

Sometimes, before an individual is charged with a crime, the police will ask them to come in for questioning in regards to that crime.  That person may be under investigation already, or the police may just want a statement to help build a case against someone else.  Either way, receiving a request to come in for questioning can be a nerve-wracking experience.

First off, do you have to go?

The simple answer is no.  Short of a subpoena or being charged with a crime, you are not legally obligated to go to the police station for questioning.  However, think about it from the perspective of the police – if you did nothing wrong, what would be your hesitation to come in for questioning?  If you deny a request to come in for questioning, they may intensify their focus on you and try and build a case for arresting you and forcing you to come in for questioning.   Another point to consider is that, in most cases, if they had enough evidence to arrest you and force you to come in for interrogation, they probably would have done so.  So if you are being asked to come in for questioning,  it is very likely that they suspect you in relation to a crime, but do not have enough evidence to arrest you yet.  It is for that reason that you may not want to flat out deny a request by the police to come in to be interviewed.

Applying your Miranda Rights

What you may want to consider doing is enacting your constitutional right to have an attorney present during any questioning that goes on.  Even though you have not been arrested, your constitutional miranda rights still apply because you are being questioned by the police.  If the police do not make you aware of your miranda rights prior to questioning, regardless of whether you are in custody or not, nothing you say can be used against you in the prosecution of a crime.

Again, they can only use information that you give them during questioning against you if they have made you aware of your miranda rights.  You can preempt their reading you of your rights by agreeing to participate in their questioning, but asking that your attorney be present.  Your criminal defense attorney can negotiate the parameters of your interrogation and will coach you on what answers to give and what you questions you should answer and what questions you should not.  If you evoke your rights to have an attorney present or remain silent, the interrogation must stop.

Do not verbally refuse or refuse to sign anything saying that you acknowledge your Miranda Rights

You should note that verbally refusing to acknowledge your miranda rights by saying something along the lines of “I do not acknowledge my miranda rights” or refusing to sign a piece a document saying that you were made aware of your rights will not protect you against incriminating statements that you make.  The Supreme Court ruled on a case in which a murder suspect refused to acknowledge his miranda rights in writing and later went on to make statements that were used in his conviction.  The Supreme Court ruled that the suspects failure to acknowledge his miranda rights amounted to his waiving those rights.

I haven’t been charged with a crime, why do I need an attorney?

The main reason, regardless of whether you have committed a crime or not, is that the police know exactly what they are doing and you do not.  The police are trained in interrogation techniques and how to get individuals to incriminate themselves or others.  The police also know exactly what they are looking for.  They have the evidence, and they know exactly what questions to ask in relation to that evidence.  You may not even know or think that you are incriminating yourself or someone else by answering their questions because they know exactly what information they are trying to get out of you — you do not.

Going back to the earlier point, you were most likely asked to come in because the police did not have enough evidence to arrest you, their goal during questioning is to have that evidence they need for an arrest come directly from your mouth.

How can having a criminal defense attorney help you?

Having an experienced attorney present will ensure that your rights are protected, help you make sure that you do not say anything to incriminate yourself, and add an element of control on your behalf to the proceedings.  There are also differences in what you might think of as your miranda rights and how the court has ruled or applied those rights.

For instance, police may interrogate you, read you your miranda rights, have you evoke your rights, and stop the interrogation.  The police are then allowed to wait several weeks, bring you in for an interrogation again, and not read you your miranda rights because the miranda rights from the previous interrogation session are still considered to be in place and any cooperation in the second interrogation session would constitute a waiver of those rights.

For this reason and reasons similar, it is very important to have an attorney present at every step in the process

The police know exactly what they are doing.  They know how to apply the law to gain information or better yet, a confession.  Involving an attorney as early in the process as possible will ensure that your rights are protected and that don’t say anything to incriminate yourself.  It is highly advisable that you do not go it alone – you don’t have to.

Contact us

If you have been asked by the police to come in for questions related to a crime, contact us today.  The Law Offices of Joseph Lombardo has been representing individuals under investigation for crimes and those who have been arrested and charged with crimes since 1993.  We represent individuals in Mt. Laurel, NJ, as well as every other county and township in Southern New Jersey. We will step in to make sure that you don’t do anything to incriminate yourself or a loved one and that your rights are protected at every step along the way.

If  you are subsequently charged with a crime, having been involved from the very beginning will allow us to build the earliest and best possible defense from those charges.  We will work to challenge evidence and have the charges against you reduced or dropped.  If necessary, we will also be prepared to go to trial in your defense.  So if you have been arrested, asked to come in for questioning, or you suspect that you are under investigation, contact us today — will will work to protect your rights.

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