Top Myths About Police and the Criminal Justice System in Illinois
Everyone should be aware of their rights – whether they are currently involved in the criminal justice system or not. The United States Constitution and state-level legislation protect our right to avoid self-incrimination, be free from unreasonable searches of our property, and much more.
If you or a loved one were arrested for a criminal offense, it is even more crucial that you fully understand the rights and responsibilities of criminal defendants. Part of this understanding requires myths and rumors about the police to be debunked.
Myth: The Police Must Identify Themselves as Law Enforcement Officers
Television shows and movies have helped perpetuate many myths and rumors about police officers. Perhaps the most enduring of these myths is the legend that police must identify themselves as law enforcement officers. You may have heard that police must answer “yes” if you ask them, “Are you a cop?”
This is completely untrue. Police do not have to identify themselves as police officers. Undercover officers pretending to be regular citizens are regularly used in sting operations and undercover drug busts.
Myth: The Police Cannot Lie to a Suspect
You may assume that police are bound to a code of ethics prohibiting deception. This is also untrue. Police can and do lie to suspects. For example, suppose a police officer arrested multiple parties suspected of drug manufacturing. Police may split up the suspects and interrogate them separately, telling each suspect that the other suspects have informed or “snitched” even if they did not actually tell the police of any additional information.
There are limits to police deception, however. For example, Illinois recently passed legislation prohibiting certain deceptive police interrogation tactics when questioning a minor.
Myth: It Is Always Better to Cooperate and Answer Police Questions
Police officers often imply that a criminal suspect will have a better chance of avoiding harsh penalties if he or she answers the officer’s questions. They may also imply or outright state that involving a lawyer will only make the situation worse. To be clear, police do not decide a criminal suspect’s fate. They do not pronounce a defendant as guilty or not guilty or decide the length of the defendant’s prison sentence.
Remember, you have a Constitutional right to remain silent. You do not have to answer questions. It is always best to remain silent and ask for your attorney if police try to interrogate you.
Contact a Wheaton Criminal Defense Lawyer
If you or a loved one are facing criminal charges, contact Davi Law Group, LLC right away. Our DuPage County criminal defense attorneys know the tactics police try to use against defendants and how to avoid falling victim to these tactics. We can help you defend yourself against whatever charges you are facing.
Call 630-580-6373 for a free consultation.