Should You Talk to the Police?

Should You Talk to the Police? Criminal Defense Attorney Marc J. Victor and Self-Defense Instructor Massad Ayoob discuss whether it’s a good idea to talk to the police if you are ever involved in a self-defense shooting.

As a criminal defense attorney, Marc’s (as well as most defense attorney’s) position is to never make any statements to the police without first speaking with your attorney. Massad on the other hand thinks you should say a few things, and he explains what he thinks you should say.




Should You Talk to the Police?


Massad Ayoob thinks you should establish a few things when the police arrive such as:

  1. Establish an Active Dynamic: Explain what the perpetrator did that caused you to shoot them.
  2. Indicate Cooperation: Let the police know you will sign a complaint and that you will testify.
  3. Preserve the Evidence: Point out where the police can find the evidence.
  4. Point Out Witnesses: Make sure the police get any witness information.
  5. Make No Other Statements: Let the office know you will make a further statement after you speak to your lawyer.


Marc Victor had a lot to say in response to Massad’s 5 things to say to the police.

Self Defense? How do you know it was a self-defense shooting? At this point, no one know, including the shooter.

Marc goes on the explain that after a shooting, when you are in the stress of the moment, this is not a good time to make a statement that could be used against you down the road at trial. Marc recalls how many times he has had clients in his office that he might have been able to get a better deal for or even gotten them completely off, if not for the fact that they opened their big mouth and made a statement. It’s not only what you might say that could be used against you, it’s also what you might have not said.

There are many other reasons why you should not make a statement. The officer may write down what you said wrong. Also, there are bad police officers, that will lie about what you said. Another reason not to make a statement is you are limiting your lawyers ability to raise a different legal theory. If you make a statement, you are stuck with that defense now. It’s better to not make any statements at all until you have had time to talk to your attorney.

You Will Cooperate After Speaking to Your Lawyer? What if after speaking to your lawyer they tell you not to make any statements at all at this time? There could be many reasons why your lawyer does not want you to make a statement at this time. You can make a statement at any time, right after a shooting is not the best time.

Preserve the Evidence? Maybe you would rather the evidence not be preserved if it helps to convict you. It’s better to keep your mouth shut and let the lawyer do the talking.

Massad Ayoob responds by saying his advice is only for people who are involved in a good shoot, and if it’s a bad shoot, there is very little he can suggest to help the person. He then concedes that if it’s a bad shoot, then they should follow Marc’s advice and just shut up. Massad then goes on to talk about how important first impressions on the officers at the scene can be. Massad stresses that you should stick to his five things to say to police, and nothing else. Do not get into an interrogation or allow them to question you further.

Massad, then reiterates his points and why he believes people should follow his advice. He talks about how he thinks it’s a good idea for a lawyer to have his client take the stand if it’s a good shoot.

Marc responds by saying it may not always be a good idea to have the client take the stand. He says not everyone is a good person to put on the stand. Some people are rattled very easily and not everyone is comfortable testifying.

Marc then points out that Massad said he always reviews the evidence in a case before deciding to take it, and that’s because you can’t trust the statement of the person who was involved in the shooting. They could be mistaken, wrong or even lying. The fact that they may say something that hurts their case, is the reason he recommends they just shut up.

Massad, then reiterates that you should only say what he has suggested that you say, and that you don’t go into details.

Marc responds by saying what if you get the facts wrong? For example, you might say the person broke into your house, but unknown to you, someone else in the house let them in. Now you have just made a false statement because you were mistaken about the facts and now you look like a liar. Marc goes on to point out that there is a reason why most all defense attorneys will tell their clients to just shut up. It’s because people will say things at the scene that they think will help their case, but many times it hurts their case instead.

Marc then goes on to explain the problem with our justice system in that average people who know nothing about the law, are the ones who will be deciding a case. He then concedes that if it were possible to know in advance that is was a good shoot, Massad’s advice might be good to follow, but the problem is, there is no way to know in advance, so the best advice is to just shut up. He then points out that the police are also taught to just shut up when they are involved in a shooting.

Massad, then responds to the example Marc gave of the person who thought someone had broke into their home by saying, you don’t always need to be right, you just need to be reasonable. In other words, would a reasonable person have reacted the same way in the same situation. He then reiterates why he thinks people should follow his advice.

Massad, then talks about a real-life event where a person chose to just shut up and ended up in jail for 10 days. Massad stresses that if would have just made a statement, the prosecutor probably would have never charged him in the first place because the prosecutor dropped the case after hearing his statement.

Marc, then points out that because he shut his mouth, he traded 10 days in jail for what could have been a lot longer had he made an inconsistent statement at the scene. So, because he chose to shut up, it worked in his favor.

Marc goes on to stress the importance of having a lawyers standing by for these types of situations. He talks about the Attorneys On Retainer program at his firm and how it works.

In the end, they agree to disagree, and that they both respect each other. So who do you think won? Should you just shut up or should you talk to the police? Let us know what you think in the comments.


Talk to the Police

Should You Talk to the Police?

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