By Brad Koffel
When we are hired by a person after a felony arrest, we will immediately interview them. Sometimes we will have them interviewed up to 3 different times by 3 different members of our firm, whether over the phone or in our conference room. Depending upon the nature of the charge, the character of the client, the past record of the client, and the evidence against the client, we may advise the client to cooperate with police.
For example, clients who are actually innocent of the charge typically fare better by cooperating with detectives and/or prosecutors. Naturally, we may not know if a client is actually innocent so sometimes we will have them interviewed a 4th time by one of our investigators (a former police detective). Depending upon how that interview goes, we may move up to a 5th interview with a polygraph examiner. Depending upon the results of the polygraph, we will discuss the pros and cons of cooperating with our client.
When we do agree to give an interview to a detective, sometimes we will request that the interview be conducted in a conference room at our office. There are reasons for that. Other times, we will agree to meet at the police department knowing that the interview is being recorded and/or monitored.
It is quite risky to cooperate with law enforcement if a client is actually guilty. If we believe the client is guilty and we cooperate with detectives, we always have a very specific result in mind. Sometimes we cooperate to start the process of Intervention in Lieu of Conviction if it is a drug-related case or to prime the pump for Diversion if it is an eligible case and offender.
One rule is hard and fast - never give an interview to a detective without (a) being interviewed first by a local criminal defense lawyer and (b) always having a lawyer with you when you give an interview to detectives.
Without exception, to date, we have never had an interview result in harsher treatment or additional charges. But, we don't always cooperate with police either.