Michigan Cop Secrets
Michigan Law Enforcement Myths Dispelled
Years of experience as Michigan’s top criminal defense firm has taught us that there are many things that police officers don’t want people to know. That’s because if people knew these secrets, the police investigation of cases would not result in as many convictions as they’d like. And, if the investigation does not lead to much evidence against a suspect, the prosecutors may decide not to even pursue criminal charges against them. Remember this: cops get paid to arrest people and help prepare cases for prosecution. It’s their job. However, there is no requirement that suspects assist the cops in their investigation. Always remember there is a Constitutional right that protects people from incriminating themselves, but it is up to the suspect to exercise that right.
Kronzek & Cronkright’s experienced criminal lawyers want to let you in on some of law enforcements best-kept secrets. As trusted criminal defense attorneys, we know the ins and outs of the criminal legal system. We’ve learned these cop secrets, and sometimes we can even use them to the advantage of our own clients.
There are many, many cop secrets when it comes to investigation and interrogation of suspects. Here is our list of the top 8 secrets the police do NOT want you to know:
1. It is seldom a good idea to consent to a search – If a police officer asks to search a person’s home, vehicle, or body, it often means they do not have enough proof of the person’s guilt to be able to legally conduct such a search. A “consent search” is one way cops get around the usual requirement of an authorized search warrant. Ordinarily, they would need probable cause or reasonable suspicion to get such a warrant. However, after law enforcement has a person’s consent to search, they are free to search the person’s home, vehicle, or body. Many times, the police find incriminating evidence during the search such as drugs, drug paraphernalia, stolen goods and much more. That is why people should be cautious and very seldom consent to any type of police search, even if they think the cops will not find evidence of criminal activity. Make the police do their job by exercising your Constitutional right to not help the cops find incriminating evidence. (Note that there are very different rules when it comes to the police searching a vehicle. Michigan law has some exceptions when it comes to vehicles searches.) Smart people clearly and frequently tell the police they do not consent to any searches. Make the cops jump through the necessary hoops to get a search warrant.
2. A suspect is not required to answer questions during an interrogation – As soon as law enforcement thinks a person is involved in a crime, they will likely attempt to question them. Some people are intimidated by the police and just tell them the truth, even if the truth incriminates them. Other people know they are guilty and lie to attempt to get out of their predicament, while others know they are innocent and proclaim their innocence. No matter whether someone is guilty or 100% innocent, it is usually not a good idea to cooperate with a police interrogation. As the police should tell you, a person in custody has the right to remain silent. These are known as the Miranda Rights. The smart suspects do remain silent except for giving their name and address. However, because people feel guilty or feel it will look bad in court if they do not cooperate, they often participate willingly in an interrogation. The truth is that it is almost always best to remain silent. Simply give the police general identifying information, such as your name, but then say: “I will be remaining silent and I am asking for an attorney to be present during any questioning.” Say this firmly and often. Then, remain silent until advised to do otherwise by an attorney.
3. The cops may be lying – During a criminal investigation in Michigan, it is perfectly legal for police officers to lie to a suspect. They often do so in the hopes that a suspect will be coerced into confessing or saying something incriminating. One example of this is to lie to a suspect and tell them they were implicated by another person. Generally, telling a suspect they have been “ratted out” makes someone more likely to admit guilt by getting them to argue that, yes, they were involved in the crime, but not as much as other people. Another example is when police officers tell someone that if they just confess, they won’t do any jail time. Only judges determine a sentencing in Michigan, not police officers. And only prosecuting attorneys decide whether to charge a suspect with a crime and, if so, which crime will be charged. The cops tell people they can make decisions about sentences and criminal charges just to gain their trust and get them to incriminate themselves. So keep in mind that cops do lie and it is legal. However, if you lie to the cops, you may be committing a crime. Shut up! Don’t talk to the police.
4. The cops are highly-trained– Michigan police officers are highly-trained in law enforcement techniques designed to solve crimes. This includes seminars and specialized training on interrogation techniques, detective work, laboratory work, and more. Also, the police work for the federal or state government and their work is funded by practically unlimited taxpayer dollars. That means they usually have access to high-tech equipment and expensive expert witnesses. It would be a mistake for a suspect to underestimate police ability to investigate and interrogate. If the police seem like they are friendly toward a suspect or they are uninformed, it could just be an act to encourage a suspect to let down his or her guard. Over-confident suspects often make admissions that are harmful to their defense. Instead, it is almost always best to remain silent and hire an aggressive attorney who has experience working with the police and prosecutor and has achieved many proven results for clients.
5. It is best to refuse Field Sobriety Tests and Preliminary Breath Tests – Being stopped on the side of the road for drunk driving can be a scary situation. Many people know they have been drinking and feel they must cooperate to have a chance at getting out of a drunk driving arrest. As part of an officer’s investigation, he or she may request a suspect complete Field Sobriety Tests, commonly called FSTs. These are physical or mental tests, such as standing on one foot or counting backwards. Though the officer may imply that a person is required to take the FSTs, the truth is that it is perfectly acceptable to refuse to take the tests. A person should be polite, but be clear that he or she is refusing to take a Field Sobriety Test. There are no negative consequences for refusing to take FSTs. Another thing the officer may have a drunk driving suspect do is blow into a portable breath test machine, which is called a Preliminary Breath Test, or PBT. Contrary to popular belief, a person will not lose their driver’s license for refusing a PBT in Michigan. Refusal of a PBT is simply a civil infraction, which, like a traffic citation, requires payment of a fine but does not enter onto a person’s criminal record or result in points on a driver’s license record. FSTs and PBTs are ways that the officer can get the probable cause required for arrest and later prove a suspect is intoxicated. Without that evidence, the officer is forced to let the suspect go unless the officer finds other grounds to arrest the suspect and have them take a DataMaster breath test or a blood test, [the refusal of which does lead to driver’s license sanctions. Don’t help the police build a case by taking Field Sobriety Tests or a Preliminary Breath Test!
6. The cops make lots of mistakes – Law enforcement officers are human, just like the rest of us. But, if they botch the investigation of a case, that could be a huge benefit to the criminal defendant. This is because anything the cops hear or see that is a result of certain police officer mistakes might be suppressed in court due to a Constitutional Law doctrine called Fruit of the Poisonous Tree. In order for the statements or evidence to be inadmissible in court, the police mistakes must rise to the level of a violation of a person’s Constitutional rights. For example, the United States Constitution protects a person from unreasonable search and seizure. This has been defined by the United States Supreme Court to mean that unless there are exigent circumstances, law enforcement needs a search warrant based on probable cause to search one’s home. If the police enter the home without the required search warrant, anything they see inside during that visit will not be admissible in court. Clearly, police and prosecutors want to keep the fact that an entire prosecution against a person, if based on information learned as a result of certain mistakes, could be invalid. The benefit to having a good criminal defense lawyer is that the lawyer knows whether the cops made a mistake during the investigation that would rise to the level of a Constitutional violation.
7. Resisting arrest is always a bad idea– Police officers have a difficult job. They have to be alert for the slightest hint of physical harm and they carry guns. So, if a police officer tells a person that they are under arrest, it is best that the person remain calm and submit to the cop. Do not try to run away, fight back, or become belligerent. Doing these things will likely get a person in more legal trouble. Even a completely innocent person who gets arrested due to a false accusation or anything else should remain calm, which could get them further ahead in the end. They should let their attorney sort it out in court as the case progresses rather than become angry with law enforcement. Remember that suspects will not win in a physical altercation with the police. Don’t try. Let the criminal defense attorneys fight for you in the courtroom.
8. Hiring an attorney right away can help a criminal defense – Many people wait until after their first court date to hire an attorney. That often leaves little time for the lawyer to prepare the best possible defense for the client. Having an aggressive attorney right from the start can positively affect the outcome of a case. At Kronzek & Cronkright, PLLC, our attorneys generally feel it is best to retain counsel as soon as a client gets wind that he or she is being investigated for a crime. We sometimes confer with the police or prosecutors to convince them that there is not enough evidence against our client for the case to proceed. We may also try to argue that our client should be charged with a lesser crime to begin with, which puts us in a better position to achieve a favorable outcome at the end of the case. Do not wait until it is too late to hire the right lawyer
You can see why the cops do not usually share these secrets with criminal suspects. They do not want you to know what your rights are. Fortunately, knowledge is power, and at Kronzek & Cronkright, we want to empower our clients. From a lawyer’s standpoint, we are always happy when a client comes to us without having done anything incriminating. But, if such incrimination has occurred, we may be able to argue against the admissibility of evidence in court. If you are being investigated for a crime, or if you have already been charged with a crime, contact us today: 866-7-NoJail.