When police ask you to come down to the precinct to speak with them, they’re trying to arrange your voluntary surrender – they want you to turn yourself in to be arrested, even if they mention nothing about arrest.
Hire a Lawyer to Arrange Your Surrender
Before surrendering, call a lawyer.
From that point forward, your lawyer should conduct all police communication for you. Under the New York State Constitution, when a lawyer “enters a case” on your behalf (for example, the lawyer notifies police that he or she is your lawyer), police may not attempt to question you outside the lawyer’s presence.
Voluntary Surrender Is the Right Move
It’s almost always a good idea to voluntarily surrender.
Voluntarily surrendering is better than being dragged from bed in handcuffs in front of your family and neighbors. It’s better than being grabbed and frisked at your job, in front of your employer and co-workers.
Voluntary surrender eliminates the need for police to forcibly arrest you, making it less likely you’ll be injured during arrest.
Also, after you’re arrested, a judge will determine bail conditions at your first court appearance (“arraignment”). There are few better arguments a lawyer can make for your release without bail (“recognizance”), or lower bail than would otherwise be the case, than: “My client, knowing she would be arrested, voluntarily turned herself in to the police this morning. She poses no risk of flight.”
Surrender, but Keep Quiet
Your cooperation should end with surrendering.
You should never speak with police.
In New York, you have the right under the State Constitution, and under the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution, not to speak with police. You should always exercise that right.
When you’re not in custody, you shouldn’t speak with police at all, other than to say, “I want to speak with my lawyer.”
If you don’t have a lawyer, and most people don’t, you should say, “I want a lawyer.” If police continue questioning you, or otherwise try to get you to speak, repeat either response – once, twice, 500 times, as many times as it takes.
When you are in custody, try to remain calm and polite.
Allow yourself to be fingerprinted and photographed.
When police try to question you, if you have a lawyer, calmly say “I want to speak with my lawyer”. if you don’t have a lawyer, calmly say, “I want a lawyer.”
While you’re in custody, police are allowed to ask you for “pedigree information” without your lawyer present.
“Pedigree information” is information that identifies you, such as: name, street name, date of birth, address, telephone number, etc.
However, prosecutors often can use pedigree information against you as evidence: the line between pedigree information and self-incrimination is often murky.
Suppose, for example, you’re accused of harassing someone from your cell phone. You will incriminate yourself if you provide your cell phone number as pedigree information to police.
Or suppose you are accused of possessing drugs that police found inside your home. You will incriminate yourself if you provide your home address to police.
Self-incrimination should always be avoided – NOT BY LYING, but by remaining silent.
Speak with your lawyer before you surrender, about what pedigree information you may safely provide. It might be no more than your name and date of birth. Write this information down. Memorize it. At your voluntary surrender, stick to the script.
Don’t Let Police Lull You into Speaking
Police will use all kinds of tactics to get you to speak. They might be friendly. They might persuade you that speaking with them will have no consequences, because you’re being arrested for trivial charges that eventually will be dismissed. They might make you believe that bad things will happen to you if you don’t speak – for example, high bail will be set, or ACS will take your children. No matter how fearful, anxious or intimidated you feel, stick with the script: “I want to speak with my lawyer.”
On the day of your voluntary surrender, you will be in custody for many hours. Do yourself a favor: wear comfortable shoes, dress in layers, and remain silent.
Or email Bruce a brief description of your situation: