Cooperating With the Police: Ever a good idea?

Most people want to cooperate with the police when they are stopped and questioned, whether it be for a traffic ticket or on suspicion of murder. Why? Because we all think that if we cooperate, we can either get out of trouble, or obtain a lenient result. Is this true? Should we cooperate? What level of cooperation is helpful, and at what point should we learn to just keep our mouths shut?
Most attorneys would tell you not to cooperate with the police in terms of providing information, granting entry and okaying searches. This is because, for those situations, there is little benefit in cooperating.

If the police ask to look into your trunk, chances are it is done because they suspect something, but do not have probable cause to conduct a search.

Other times, people believe that cooperating will lead to a lesser sentence. This is not usually true. The police may appreciate your cooperation, but the prosecutor in your case may not care. The prosecutor is the person in charge of pressing charges against you, so it may not matter whether or not you cooperated, although a judge may be more lenient down the road.

However, every situation is different, and it is possible that cooperation may help you in certain situations. But when it comes to offering more information, you would be wise not to do so. The police are information gatherers. It is their job to find evidence that can be used to prosecute you. Do not make a job difficult for the police, or give them justification to search your car by acting violent. On the other hand, do not offer information that could lead to your arrest.

This information is not intended as legal advice.

About Thomas Ehrlich

Thomas Ehrlich is an attorney at law and owner of the Ehrlich Law Offices in New Jersey. Thomas specializes in DUI law, criminal defense, family law, expungements, and various other legal fields. For more information, contact him directly by visiting www.notguiltynj.com/contact.