When the Police Officer Says You Do Not Need a Lawyer

Posted by Richard Lawson | Feb 23, 2015 | 0 Comments

The Lamb and the Slaughterhouse:

I find it rather odd that people routinely tell me that the arresting officer or a deputy at the jail told them that their case is not serious, and they do not need to hire an attorney.

This will not be a very long article. When in an adversarial situation, seek advice from anyone you trust; however, NEVER SEEK ADVICE FROM YOUR ADVERSARY.

If the police officer did not think the case was important enough to warrant legal counsel, he WOULD NOT HAVE ARRESTED YOU. He would not have caused you to have to make bail, placed a blemish on your criminal record, set a court date for you, and subjected you to the possibility of 12 months in jail. (All Georgia Misdemeanor offenses carry up to 12 months in custody).

Recently, I was meeting a client at the Gwinnett County Jail, along with his parents. The parents interacted with the police officer at the time of the arrest. The parents of the client told me that the arresting officer offered to put in a good word for their son, and them told them if he cooperated, the case the case would go better for him. He then told him that they would not need a lawyer and that he could speak to the prosecutor on his own.

Okay, so let us review, he was arrested, taken to jail, forced to make bail, and was charged with a serious crime. However, the police officer, who has no authority to make any agreement with anyone, gave the client an offer of benefit if he cooperated. Also, he wanted the accused to speak to the prosecutor (the attorney representing the State's interest) to make a deal.

This is like when the Lamb enters the slaughterhouse and takes an ax to its own head. ©

If a defendant is seeking a fair outcome, shouldn't that person have his or her own attorney reviewing the terms and advising thereto? Surely, if the State's Attorney and the State's police force want to be entirely fair to the accused, why would they fear that a person is properly represented by competent counsel?

I think I will ask a prosecutor to help answer the question because I always seek advice on what I publish from those with whom I have an adversarial position.

Seriously, any police officer that tells you that you do not need an attorney has his or her own agenda, and that agenda has nothing to do with making sure you are treated fairly and proportionally. Their job is to make sure you are convicted and punished, nothing more.

About the Author

Richard Lawson

Managing Partner at Lawson & Berry:


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