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What should you say to law enforcement during an encounter?

Why is it a bad idea for suspects — even those with negotiating experience — to try to broker a deal with police or state's attorneys? Bluntly, it is usually not in the officials' best interests to secure innocent verdicts or case dismissals. 

Criminal investigators spend their working lives researching and documenting possible criminal behavior. Once they have collected evidence they believe would lead to a conviction, arresting officers then pick up suspects. 

It sounds obvious. Even so, many people fail to remember that arresting officers or investigation personnel believe suspects are guilty. These professionals often do everything within their rights to collect further evidence during an arrest. Even if an interrogation is not the express motive of a line of discussion, there is a good chance any information law enforcement solicits, directly or indirectly, could strengthen the case against a criminal defendant.

One of the subtler ways officials attempt to implicate the accused is via offering an option to negotiate. This is an especially popular tactic when it comes to white-collar crimes, such as embezzlement or insider trading. There may even be mention of real opportunities to mitigate sentences. 

Unfortunately, what the accused person often fails to realize is that the state's attorney or police officer is attempting to leap forward in the criminal justice process. These mitigating factors only apply to a person once a court finds him or her guilty of a crime. Therefore, there would be no need to call first-time offender status, remorse or reputation into the discussion before a guilty verdict became a real legal possibility.

Much in the same way business negotiations require context from financial and market knowledge, knowledge of both statutory law and relevant case histories should form the basis of legal discussions. It is unlikely that even the most skilled negotiators would succeed if they were at a disadvantage in terms of this information. 

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Hindman & Lanzon
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Knoxville, TN 37902

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Phone: 865-223-6450
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