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Interviewer: What are some of the mistakes that clients will make in this whole situation?
Paul Geller: I think the biggest one is the statement to the police because when the police are coming out, they’re trying to make a determination no. 1, who is the initial aggressor? Who is the one that more than likely is going to be arrested? By being completely honest with the police, from a practical standpoint and from a suicidal standpoint, we want people to behave that way; from a legal standpoint, they’re probably doing themselves a disservice because the police are going to twist and turn and use that statement to legally support their ultimate decision as to who’s going to be arrested.
Statements Made to the Police In the Heat of the Moment Can Be Harmful
So, when the police are interviewing someone and they say “Well, listen! She said that you pushed her because she was standing in your way and she was just trying to talk to you and you pushed her out of the way”, and the male responds “Well, I only pushed her because she was blocking my view and I was just trying to go downstairs and she wouldn’t let me, so yes I did push her so that I could go downstairs”, like found innocent in a practical sense but it’s corroborating her statement that he would be aggressor. So, often times, those statements end up being damaging and hurtful in a legal context.
It is Possible for a Defendant to Incriminate Themselves While Participating in Subsequent Interviews Regarding the Alleged Incident
Another problem that I see often times is usually in a domestic violence or an assault type situation, the investigating officers that do report on scene or certainly thereafter and then, the case is handed over to a detective or an investigating officer. That person will usually then do a second interview of the alleged victim and often times of the suspect at some point over the next few days either telephonically or otherwise. And that person so many times will give a statement and it corroborates once again the alleged conduct. And they do so without thinking “Is this going to hurt me in the future?”
Alleged Victims May Have a Different Perspective on the Outcome of the Situation
Most of the time, it’s because they have yet to talk to an attorney who can better handle the communication with the investigating officer and better handle the posture of the case and how it’s going to proceed if at all. So, I think one of the things that a person can do if they find themselves either being questioned or arrested for this type of situation is to say, “You know, I’d really like to talk to my attorney first” and not say anything. Additionally, witnesses and/or victims may have a different perspective of what they wanted to happen legally and so often times, those statements can be provided to law enforcement and that could change the posture of the case.
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