One of the most common questions encountered by Criminal Law Attorneys is, “Should I talk to law enforcement?” The question arises in multiple fact scenarios from being pulled over for suspicion of driving under the influence to being contacted regarding witnessing an event. The most common answer to this question in many situations is simply, “It’s complicated.”
First and foremost, it should be noted that the citizens of Northern Kentucky are lucky to be served by a fantastic law enforcement community. In particular, the Boone County Sheriff’s Department and Florence Police Department are filled with highly-trained individuals who are not just good officers and deputies but good people who have an emotional investment in protecting and promoting the safety of the members of the Boone County Community. Despite this blessing, the answer to the question “Should I talk to law enforcement?” is still a complicated issue.
The inquiry that should be made when attempting to find an answer to the question is “Am I a witness or a suspect?” If an individual can without doubt provide the answer of “witness” to this question then, yes you should talk to law enforcement. A basic trust needs to exist between citizens and law enforcement in this scenario. Eye-witness accounts are invaluable to paint the whole picture and provide important context. It is essential to remember that law enforcement officers are just trying to do a job and when a witness refuses to speak to an officer or deputy it is like a video camera refusing to play its video. The officer or deputy’s investigation is made more difficult. Sources of evidence other than the most obvious must be sought. Law Enforcement resources are stretched thin, and the tax-payer’s money is needlessly expended.
Perhaps this seems like an obvious answer to many, but in some communities, there is pressure to protect individuals who may be suspects of a crime. In such cases, bravery and courage may be required to do that which seems obvious and basic on first glance, i.e. stepping forward to assist law enforcement.
However, if an individual cannot easily discern whether he or she is a “witness” or “suspect” then the answer to the question, “Should I talk to law enforcement?” becomes more complicated. The answer becomes more complicated because said individual’s personal freedom could be at stake if he or she inadvertently provides information to law enforcement which could incriminate the individual in a crime. Moreover, few know the requirements of a given crime and may suspect that they could be a suspect when they are in absolutely no legal jeopardy, thus said individual may think he or she is a suspect when in actuality they are a witness, and said reluctance could result in an unneeded hinderance to law enforcement’s pursuit of the real suspect. When the answer to the question “Should I talk to law enforcement?” becomes complicated the best path forward will most likely be to contact an experienced criminal attorney who can help answer the question in a competent manner allowing an individual to take necessary precautions and hopefully move forward with his or her life.