Also known as the “queen for a day” arrangement, an interview with law enforcement as part of the criminal justice process is a critically important part of your case. Many defendants are understandably afraid to talk to the same law enforcement personnel who may be trying to put them in prison. When their criminal defense lawyer raises the topic with them, they may have reservations. However, there are reasons why an interview with law enforcement can help your case. Here are the pros and cons of agreeing to be interviewed by law enforcement.
You Have Some Protections
There are some protections for information that you give a prosecutor when it comes as part of plea discussions. These are usually discussed and agreed on in advance by your criminal attorney and the prosecutor. While these protections are not as extensive as those in the Rules of Evidence, it will largely prevent the government from using whatever you say against you later on if there is no deal.
It Can Help You Reach a Plea Agreement
The most obvious reason to interview with law enforcement is that the defendant wants some sort of deal. Whether that is a plea bargain, immunity, or even not being charged, the defendant is hoping to show the prosecutor that they are either innocent or have some important information to offer.
Especially when there is a larger case to be made against a group of individuals, prosecutors may reward those who cooperate the most quickly. Many criminal cases end with a plea bargain instead of a trial. Any positive step that can be taken in that direction could lead to a better future outcome. Most often, you would not be sitting down with the prosecutor to have an interview just for the sake of chatting. It usually means that a deal is a distinct possibility.
It Builds the Relationship with the Prosecutor
In that regard, interviewing with the prosecutor can set the stage for a working relationship with law enforcement and the defendant. While defendants’ aim should not be to be liked by the prosecutor, cordial relations can only help when a case has been or is about to be charged. Likability alone will not reduce a sentence, but it will increase the possibility that the prosecutor will want to negotiate with you. It can establish a line of communication for the future when two people have already talked face-to-face.
In addition, interviewing with a prosecutor can help them determine that the defendant is actually believable. This is important if law enforcement is trying to prove a larger case and may need to put the defendant on the stand. The last thing that a prosecutor wants is to end up calling someone to testify who gets caught in a lie or is not credible to the jury. This is a good way to audition the prosecutor in the hopes of a deal.
The Risks of Speaking with a Prosecutor
At the same time, there are definite risks to sitting down and speaking with law enforcement. These almost all relate to the possibility that a deal may not happen. In that event, the prosecutor may have strengthened their own position while the defendants are left holding the bag.
Perjury Charges Are a Possibility
There are some limited exceptions to the protections that you get when talking to a prosecutor. If you have made false statements to a prosecutor, it could lead to a perjury charge. In that way, prosecutors can use what you say against you at a later date.
If you have talked to a prosecutor, it is always pursuant to an agreement reached ahead of time. However, if you say something different while testifying at trial than you said to the prosecutor, they could start to go after you by impeaching your testimony. In that regard, it could restrict what you are able to say at trial.
The Government Could Learn About Your Case
While an interview with law enforcement would seemingly be held in the hopes of securing a plea deal or not being charged, the prosecutor gets valuable information that they can keep in the back of their head. While the interview may not be recorded, the prosecutor is certainly taking notes. By talking to you, they could be able to probe for some weak parts of your own defense. While they cannot use the information against you in court, they have a road map to question you when they are cross-examining you.
The Prosecutor May Have Bad Intentions
When you talk to the prosecutor, your hope is that the prosecutor is on the level and truly has an intention to reach a deal. In some cases, the prosecutor may not really be interested in a deal. They will end up getting a lot more out of you than you would from them. This includes information and a free look at how you react and respond to questioning. The prosecutor could be casting a very broad net, speaking to many people without the intention of giving each and every single one of them immunity or a plea bargain. In that event, talking with them could weaken your case.
The Defendant Could Admit to Other Things
Under questioning, the defendant could veer into other areas that were not originally a topic of the discussion. This could give the prosecutor information about other potential offenses to be investigated and charged. It is difficult to stay disciplined over the course of a long interview, and loose statements to open-ended questions could subject a defendant to more liability than they already faced.
Contact an Appleton Criminal Defense Lawyer
A criminal defendant or even someone under investigation should never speak with a prosecutor except under the advice of their attorney and with their Appleton criminal defense lawyer present. Call the attorneys at Hogan Eickhoff today at (920) 450-9800 to schedule your free consultation or contact us online to learn more about how we can help protect your legal rights. We are criminal lawyers who are experienced at working with prosecutors when necessary.