Should I talk to a lawyer before I am arrested by the Chicago police? For this likely Illinois burglary arrest, it was a smart move.
Members of the Chicago Police Department had been showing up at the client's home looking for him and asking him to call them. Instead, the client wisely called Chicago criminal defense attorney Steven R. Hunter.
Mr. Hunter met with the client and explained to him in detail the many, many ways that talking to the police could, and probably would, land the client in serious trouble. The client agreed that he wished to make no statement to the police and that he wanted Attorney Steven R. Hunter present during any questioning.
At this point Attorney Steven R. Hunter contacted the police officer who had left her name and telephone number. That officer informed Attorney Steven R. Hunter that the Chicago Police Department had issued an "Investigative Alert".
An Investigative Alert is an end run around the Constitution. When our founding fathers wrote the Bill of Rights, they required that the police obtain a warrant from a judge or magistrate before they would go and arrest someone. Over many years, exceptions to that requirement evolved, including the notion that the police could arrest someone if they have "probable cause" to believe they were involved in a crime.
In this case, the police claimed they had probable cause. However, that turned out to be untrue. Nevertheless, the Investigative Alert had been issued and it was only a matter of time before the police would arrest the client and take him into custody.
The question facing the client was whether to turn himself in with Attorney Steven R. Hunter or to remain at large.
The advantages to remaining at large included 1) Not being in custody, and 2) Clearly being placed under arrest when the police finally caught up to him, which would be helpful during a suppression motion.
As stated above, the police need probable cause to make an arrest. If it turns out the arrest was made without probable cause, then any evidence obtained based on that arrest can possibly be suppressed. One way police try to get around having all of their evidence suppressed based on an illegal arrest is to claim that the person was not under arrest and came to the police station voluntarily. This is a difficult claim for the police to make if they pick the suspect up off the street.
The advantages of the client turning himself in with Attorney Steven R. Hunter include 1) being able to pick the time and circumstances for the turn in, and 2) having Mr. Hunter present to witness the client invoking his right to remain silent and his right to an attorney.
Over the years, Attorney Steven R. Hunter has opted for a client turning himself in with Mr. Hunter because Mr. Hunter has noticed more and more "phantom statements." That is where the police claim that the suspect never invoked his rights and made an oral statement admitting to the crime. This supposed statement is not signed by the defendant, and no one other than police ever claim to hear it.
Attorney Steven R. Hunter believes that in many, many cases, if the police are convinced the suspect is guilty, they will lie and fabricate an alleged statement in order to win a conviction. In Cook County, many judges will accept a police officer's claim that the suspect confessed without any written proof or corroboration. Therefore, it is essential to have an Attorney present when the client invokes his rights.
A judge is far more likely to believe that a defendant invoked his right to remain silent and his right to an attorney if he has a lawyer backing him up. The police must recognize this, because Attorney Steven R. Hunter has never seen a "Phantom statement" if he is present when his client invokes his rights. Once rights are invoked, all questioning must cease.
In this case, after the client invoked his rights in front of Mr. Hunter and the Detective, the Detective asked to speak to Mr. Hunter privately. In that conversation, the Detective claimed that two off-duty police officers saw the client at the scene of the crime, and saw his truck drive away. The Detective tried to suggest to Mr. Hunter that if his client talked, he would receive leniency.
Attorney Steven R. Hunter, knowing this is never true, informed the Detective that his client would not waive his rights and would continue to remain silent. After a short period of time, the client was released without being charged.
Clearly, the Detective was less than truthful about having two off-duty police officers as eyewitnesses, and by remaining silent and having the good sense to hire the Law Office of Steven R. Hunter, the client avoided felony charges.