Thursday, March 1, 2012

Ithaca Cortland Lawyer Protecting Yourself from the Police

Ithaca is a college town. That has it's fair share of positives and negatives. One of the things that higher education fails to provide (even to young lawyers) is that the police have a dual role. Understanding the dynamics of this dual role allows us the confidence to invoke our rights. Our right to remain silent and to have an attorney are our only true protection from the overwhelming power of the government.

Role One: To Protect and Serve

They (law enforcement) are there to protect us from crime, and criminals. They stand guard around us, to watch over our daily life, and to calm any caustic incidents. They also act to investigate and deal with car, truck, and motorcycle accidents. Their role often involves helping people who have been robbed, taken advantage of, and hurt by others. Sometimes this can also involve assisting paramedics, and dealing with natural disasters. In addition, they can act as a para-military organization when terrorism is a threat.

Role Two: To Investigate, Charge, and Arrest for Crimes

They also have a sworn duty to uphold the law. They have a great deal of discretion in deciding who and what crimes get charged. They also decide when crimes are to be charged. They often work hand in hand with the prosecutor's office in their longer and more in depth investigations. 

The Psychology of Trusting the Protector

We are ingrained in school. The mantra, "the police are my friend" and "trust the police to help you." 
Psychologically people often forget that the same police being called to investigate your car accident and help you may turn around and accuse you of driving while under the influence of something. The same police you call to your home to report a burglary or domestic incident with a neighbor will also be looking at everything in and around your home. I can't even begin to tell you the number of people who have gotten charged with possession of drugs under these circumstances. 

I spent a law school term working as an assistant in the Gloucester County Prosecutor's Office in Woodbury, New Jersey. The office was only one floor up from the police department. There the district attorney, and the detectives worked closely on many cases. Watching their interaction together was an invaluable experience.


If asked to talk to the police or any law enforcement agency (anytime and anyplace) you should always have an attorney present.

I do not use the word always lightly. 

WHY Always? Why do I need a lawyer? They have the ultimate advantage. 

The one asking the questions always has the power position. 
Consider their resources (information about anyone and everyone).
They can get warrants to get at anyone's private information. 
Consider their ability to lie and deceive you in the name of justice. 
Consider their ability to charge you with crimes based upon merely PC (probable cause). 
Finally, Consider that anything you say can and will be used against you in a Court of Law.

You need something to level the playing field. Your own protector.That is why a lawyer is a must. 

Lawrence Newman, D.C., J.D.
Law Offices of Lawrence Newman
504 N. Aurora Street 
Ithaca, NY 14850