This is Dennis Boren, criminal defense attorney and former felony prosecutor. And today I want to talk to you about three things that you really need to know when you deal with the police.
First of all, cell phones. Cell phones have become a boon for law enforcement for various reasons, but the main one is the ability to track your location and to find out where you were at a certain time. Now, most of us are aware that they ping off towers, and they can determine a proximity, kind of a circle in which the cell phone can be used in.
But they can also be traced back to what Wi-Fi networks a particular phone has been in contact with. This does not mean you’ve logged into it. I had a case, and I didn’t really realize until this happened to my case that there’s actually a handshake between Wi-Fi networks and phones.
If you go down the street and you just watch on your settings, the Wi-Fi networks that come up there one after another and another, even though you never connect to them, there’s still a digital handshake for lack of a better term.
Turn on your video app
Number two. I say this at the end of all the videos I’ve ever made. When you’re dealing with the police, get out your smartphone, and turn on your video app. Now, you don’t have to get all the transaction in visual form. If it’s just the audio, that’s fine too.
I just suggest you turn on the video app. If it’s an audio app, that is still good. Still, it works to the advantage of prosecutors to have a video, and they have the burden of proof, so they often need it.
You should realize that police reports aren’t going to be written in your favor. So having a video could really solve any dispute that you have with the written police report.
I had a case that will show you how powerful a video is. Of course this worked out to the state’s advantage. My client insisted he did not steal a gun from behind a counter in a store. Well, this particular store was a pawn shop, and they have about 80 cameras in pawn shops.
And it was clear as a bell that he reached over the counter and opened it and pulled out a gun and stuck it down his pants. So that solved that. It made my client know that he needed to take the deal that they were offering him.
Ask for a lawyer
Now, let me tell you about the third thing. Now, this is what I call a magic bullet. So you’re running your video app or GoPro camera. It doesn’t matter what it is. You just need to get this documented.
Now ask for an attorney. You can say, “Can I ask for a lawyer?” You can say, “Where’s my lawyer?” Or, “I want a lawyer” Or you can also say, “I want my attorney.” You can say it any which way you’d like. This creates an unequivocal, tall, impregnable wall.
The cases are very clear. Once you do this, it’s called invoking your right to counsel. Once you’ve invoked, anything that comes after that, as far as questioning is concerned, is not going to be admissible. And it’s not only not going to be admissible in terms of what you say, but also the resulting consequences of what you say. It’s called fruits of the poisonous tree.
So if there is evidence that’s discovered, or witnesses that are discovered, from what you say after you’ve invoked, that is also suppressible by a judge in the court.
The importance of shutting up
However, if you blurt out something spontaneously, without being questioned (it’s called sua sponte) even though you’ve invoked your right, that can be used against you.
I need to say this politely. You need to invoke your right to counsel, and then shut up. Most people want to explain themselves, they want to justify their behavior. As I said before, these police reports are not going to be written in your favor. You can count on that. I hope this was helpful.