Talking to the prosecutor can be a make-or-break moment for your case. The chances are that you and your criminal defense attorney have concluded that there is some benefit to be had from a face-to-face meeting where you submit to questions. Given the critical importance of this interview, you must not prepare extensively. You must also be very disciplined during the interview itself, considering the stakes. Here are some things to consider before you sit down for an interview with the prosecutor.
Be Truthful at All Times
This is perhaps the most important thing that you can do for yourself in an interview for several reasons. The first is that the entire reason that you are sitting down with the prosecutor is to explore a possible deal. They need to be convinced as to your credibility. If they cannot trust a defendant, they will not have any use for their testimony. They are trying to strategize on their own, and the prosecutor is thinking about how you can help their case. One of the biggest things that could prevent a deal is if the prosecutor thinks that the defendant is not telling them the truth.
The second reason to be truthful is that anything less can both hurt your case and open you up to criminal charges in the future. If you testify under oath and say anything untrue, you are at risk of perjury charges. Sometimes, the prosecutor may not be able to prove the case that they originally charged a defendant with, but they can obtain a perjury conviction.
Finally, one of the biggest risks of an interview is that you may not be able to reach a plea deal, or none may be offered. If this is the case, being untruthful in an interview with the prosecutor may impact your ability to testify at trial. The prosecutor can impeach your testimony with inconsistent statements that you previously made. Even if your interview with the prosecutor is not being recorded, the prosecutor is taking notes.
Do Not Offer Additional Information
The prosecutor may ask open-ended questions. The trick is to answer those questions in a way that sounds credible without giving up additional information. This means that you need to stick to the script going in and not veer away from what you and your criminal defense lawyer have discussed ahead. There is a natural urge to want to expound on answers and explain yourself, but you should stick only to the questions asked by the prosecutor.
Consider the Question Before You Start to Answer
One tip is to pause briefly before beginning to answer the question. This will help you gather your thoughts and stick to the question. If you have any confusion about the question, make sure to speak up before you begin to answer. It is ok to ask the prosecutor to clarify the question if you are uncertain. If nothing else, this will give your attorney an opportunity to engage the prosecutor to explain what they are asking. It is better to ask than to speak without fully understanding the question because that is when you may make admissions that will harm your case.
Stop When You Need a Break
People tend to make the most mistakes when they are tired and not thinking clearly. An interview with prosecutors is voluntary, and you can ask for a break when you need it. A break can be used to confer with your attorney or just to take a minute to relax. You have the right to assert yourself when you feel like you need to stop temporarily. Your attorney should also be watching you and how you are responding to the questions and may ask for a break on your behalf. Even if a question has just been asked, you can take time to confer with your attorney because an interview with a prosecutor is not the same as a trial. When in doubt, stop or ask to rest.
Let Your Lawyer Do Their Job
Your criminal defense attorney likely has significant experience dealing with law enforcement. They have likely been a part of numerous interviews and have guided their clients on how to respond. Your lawyer will prepare you extensively for the meeting with the prosecutor. They will not let you go in and talk without detailed guidance on how to handle the questions.
This is where you need to trust the person that you have hired to defend your legal rights. They have dealt with prosecutors before and will guide you before the interview and help protect you during it. Make sure that the attorney knows everything they need to beforehand, so they are fully prepared for the hearing.
Remember Who the Prosecutor Is Working For
When preparing to be interviewed by the prosecutor, you should never forget who you are dealing with at all times. The prosecutor is someone working on behalf of the state or federal government who has or will charge you with a crime.
When talking to a prosecutor, it is vital to remain on guard at all times. There is a natural inclination to try to impress the person interviewing you. Make sure to resist this temptation. The prosecutor is taking notes literally and figuratively.
The prosecutor is someone who is doing a job, and people being interviewed should remember that the relationship is transactional and business-like. Therefore, the prosecutor should never be confused with a friend. While they have the power to make a deal with you, their first interest is in doing their job.
Experienced Appleton Criminal Defense Lawyers
As you can see, talking to the prosecutor can have rewards for you in the form of a reduced sentence or even not being charged at all. Nonetheless, the process requires preparation and precision, and nothing can be left to chance. The Appleton criminal defense lawyers at Hogan Eickhoff could guide you through this process. Contact us online or call us today at (920) 450-9800 for your free consultation.