How much influence do police/LEO reports have in prosecution?

How much influence do police/LEO reports have in prosecution?

This is a discussion on How much influence do police/LEO reports have in prosecution? within the Concealed Carry Issues & Discussions forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; This is, obviously, more of a question for law enforcement, lawyers but there are some very knowledgeable people who might be able to shed more ...

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Thread: How much influence do police/LEO reports have in prosecution?

  1. #1
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    Question How much influence do police/LEO reports have in prosecution?

    This is, obviously, more of a question for law enforcement, lawyers but there are some very knowledgeable people who might be able to shed more light on the whole process of arrest and how the District Attorney decides to charge.

    I've never been arrested and other than the occasional speeding/parking ticket I've never been charged with anything either.

    From my understanding an officer of the law is called to a scene and determines whether or not a crime has taken place and arrests an individual for that crime depending on his interpretation of the circumstances, the laws that apply and procedure.

    He takes the individual into custody and files a report with the suspected charges. The district attorney (DA) reviews those suspected charges, reads (hopefully) the police report and determines whether or not to actually charge the individual with the suspected charges.

    I have heard of cases where the individual in question has NEVER even spoken to or seen the DA and charges are filed without so much as a single word being spoken in regards to guilt or innocence.

    We also know there are those instances where officers will throw every offense and the kitchen sink at an individual to get him/her to get the charges maximized so that an individual will plead down to something that will stick.

    All that being said... (phew)

    There are a number of people who strongly believe that when officers arrive on the scene of a self defense shooting the only thing that should be said is, "I want an attorney."

    It gives officers no choice but to arrest the individual for what may very well look like murder and then railroad them through the system on to an arraignment and trial date (though, hopefully, it would never come to that and charges would be dropped somewhere along the way).

    If the last standing individual on the scene of the crime gives the officers nothing with which to work with they are left to assume the worst and write up their reports only as they interpret them.

    How much influence do those reports hold with the District Attorney?

    If a police officer has no other choice but to suspect something horrible happened because he can't get any information out of the individual involved and he writes up his opinion that a murder took place vs self defense, is that worse or indifferent to the district attorney?


  2. #2
    VIP Member Array farronwolf's Avatar
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    I would think that by the time the DA gets involved they would have talked to the attorney that the person left standing was claiming the right to. The officers might take the person into custody, but the DA's office is the one that brings the charges against the individual based on the information available. In some states a Grand Jury has to determine if the evidence is sufficient to bring the charges.

    The DA is going to look at the report/s filed by the officers, so what is in those reports will definately matter to some extent. Of course with that the DA will look at the dead guy's record and that of the person still standing. If the person still standing has a squeeky clean record and the dead guy has a rap sheet starting when they were in their teens, that will probably have as much of an impact as what is written in the investigating officers report, especially if the dead guy has a history of assaults, or other physical crimes.

    Depending on the circumstances, I definately want to contribute some information to the officers report when it is written if I am still standing. Yea I know this goes against some folks core beliefs, but not everyone lives in the same place. So if you do make any statement, make sure you're not saying anything that will reflect negatively on you in the officers report. Depending on where you live, this might be a very tricky thing to do.
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    It is unfortunately true that you will likely be taken into custody by default for saying nothing and waiting on your attorney, but even if you get rapidly railroaded into an arraignment, odds are you were going to be charged either way. The short term risks involved in being taken into custody while waiting on your attorney to arrive pales in comparison to the risks you assume by making any statements without qualified legal council. No matter how cut and dry something seems to you, the legal repercussions involved in discharging or even simply drawing our firearms are incredibly complex and nasty to navigate.

    Anything you say can, and will, be twisted out of context, made into a dramatic video presentation, and shown to your grandkids in twenty years to show just what a bad a man you were, and just how lucky society is to have you off the streets.

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    This is what my attorney (not criminal, just family law and friend ) advised me to say...if... I ever had to defend myself, "WOW I thought he was going to kill me, I was afraid for my life, I'm still so scared, or so upset, or shaking so bad, can I call my lawyer"? I've never been in this position, but I asked him in casual conversation, "what if" and thats what he told me, then he said "just sit down and SHUT UP until I get there". I asked "should I say he had a knife, or had a gun, or shot at me, or whatever, and I got the same response again "just sit down and SHUT UP"
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    VIP Member Array TedBeau's Avatar
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    I think that it would be best to make a very simple statement such as "I was attacked, I was in fear of being killed,(Or injured if there was no deadly weapon involved) and I defended myself."

    I wouldn't even go as far as to say "Shot", or use the word gun. Just say that you defended yourself, and then ask for your lawyer.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stubborn View Post
    This is what my attorney (not criminal, just family law and friend ) advised me to say...if... I ever had to defend myself, "WOW I thought he was going to kill me, I was afraid for my life, I'm still so scared, or so upset, or shaking so bad, can I call my lawyer"? I've never been in this position, but I asked him in casual conversation, "what if" and thats what he told me, then he said "just sit down and SHUT UP until I get there". I asked "should I say he had a knife, or had a gun, or shot at me, or whatever, and I got the same response again "just sit down and SHUT UP"
    And point out any witnesses or evidence they might miss - like where the perp tossed a gun or knife.

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    Not making an immediate statement isn't necessarily going to result in your immediate arrest and incarceration. You very well may be initially taken into custody while Officers do their initial investigation, but there are many more factors to be looked at than just your initial statement to determine whether or not probable cause exists to make an arrest.

    Memorize - "I was in fear of my life and forced to defend myself, I intend to cooperate fully but want an attorney present before giving any further statements"

    Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law - once said it can't be unsaid, keep your tongue still until you have the presence of council.
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    Distinguished Member Array Fitch's Avatar
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    All of these replies assume the person you defended yourself against is dead, which happens in a surprisingly small percentage of self defense gun uses. What if the assailant is busy claiming you are the instigator? I get the feeling that which ever way is first percieved as "right" by officialdom, including the officers on scene, is how it gets persued absent overwhelming evidence to the contrary. I'm not convinced it is "always, with out exception" the best course to say nothing. In fact a number of people with a lot of experience, like Ayoobe, say to say at least that you were in fear for your life or grevious injury and had to defend yourself. The organization I belong to also says to point out important bits of evidence that might be missed.

    Fitch
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    One thing to keep in mind: The fist one to call the police is generally looked at as the victim. Always make sure that you are the one that called the police as soon as it is safe to do so. Even if you know someone else already called. Tell them that you were in imminent danger and have had to defend yourself. Say nothing else until your attorney is present.

    Massad Ayoob give some good advise:

    http://imomags.com/gunsandammo/2011/...real-shooting/
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    While DC was undergoing some changes in it's forum link, the first page I logged into contained this you tube video.

    I had seen it before, and I just watched it again...

    The number one reason that the attorney gives for not talking to the police is this... "It CANNOT help you."

    In fact, we've all heard "... and may be used against you in a court of law." And it will not be used FOR you, ever.

    I, like most of us, am too stupid not to say anything... But, I honestly believe, in a self defense shooting.. the best thing to say is (AT THE VERY MOST) "I was attacked and afraid for my life, I am so shook up right now, I would just as soon not say any more until I talk to my lawyer."

    I wouldn't even put in the part about having to defend myself. I might add pointing out where the assailant threw his gun, knife, whatever... But I'm not saying anything more than that.

    I hope MitchelCT chimes in on this one.
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    "Don't Talk to the Police" by Professor James Duane
    James Duane explains why innocent people should never talk to the police.

    "Don't Talk to the Police" by Officer George Bruch
    George Bruch from the Virginia Beach police department responds to Professor James Duane's presentation on why innocent people should never talk to the police.

    Just Say Nothing by Dave Kopel

    What if you've just been arrested for something which shouldn't be a crime? For instance, if a burglar breaks into your home, attacks your children and you shoot him. Should you talk to the police in detail about what happened? In a word, "No." Shut up, call the best lawyer you can find, and then continue to shut up. If you talk to the police, you will only make things worse for yourself...................................
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    While most of the answers in this thread are actually NOT answering the original question which was, "How much influence does a police report have on the charges and if they are filed?" I can understand the natural progression of the discussion.

    Oakchas, I've watched that series before. And while I understand it I also have read several accounts where individuals have NOT said anything to responding officers and evidence IS overlooked and/or chatty witnesses give false/misunderstanding statements, attackers lie, faulty assumptions are made because there's absolutely NOTHING ELSE for the responding officers to go off of.

    In one such case I read a man defended himself in his own driveway. The THREE people who attacked him all survived and while he was biting his tongue in a holding cell waiting for his lawyer to arrive the three of them wove a tale of extraordinary proportions, evidence was overlooked and he ended up spending two years in jail while going through trial because he couldn't get the cash-only bail money necessary to get out. He was eventually acquitted but not until he was penniless, lost everything he had (including his house and his job) and his family disowned him.

    In another case a man shot in what he claimed to be self defense but left the scene, he refused to speak to investigators and for two days while they were waiting for him to tell his side of the story they wrapped up their investigation and concluded that a murder had taken place. After those two days the guy finally released a statement that the man he shot had a gun and pulled first and he was acting in self defense but by then the scene had already been released and no gun was ever found. The man ended up with a manslaughter charge because no gun was immediately found and when they went back the scene was completely clean and no witness could confirm that the man who was shot had a gun.

    In a third case a man defended himself against a man with a gun and when the attacker was shot he fell and his hand hit a low wall and the gun bounced over the wall and into some bushes in the next yard. The man refused to talk and no gun was immediately found. He was railroaded toward a murder charge until he FINALLY released a statement and, THANKFULLY, almost a full week after the incident, investigators went back and found the gun in the neighboring bushes and the charges were dropped. Had that gun been found by someone else and just taken he would never have been able to prove it was self defense.

    I don't think someone should sit there and try to give a huge, elaborate statement, but there ARE such cases in where absolutely refusing to give any information to responding officers has lead to devastating results some that could NEVER be undone.

    I think it's very critical to be able to point out key points such as whether or not it was self defense, if/where a weapon was in play AGAINST you and then, once you're assured the critical information (and no more) is given over, calmly asking for a lawyer. All of that is going to go into the reports that the district attorney sees, not to mention there may be evidence that is found in your favor that may have otherwise been missed, and you could just as easily hang yourself by what you DON'T say as by what you DO say. The key is knowing and practicing the difference.

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    VIP Member Array Harryball's Avatar
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    Lima,

    At the end of the Massod video is your answer. From what he says the DA will go by what the police on scene find. To say nothing I think Implies some sort of guilt, to say to much could land you in hot water, but you must tell the police something. The need to know your the victim, and Like Massod said his 5 things to say seem to be pretty much what is needed to keep you out of hot water, if your in an SD shooting.
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    I agree with Mas here. One small point I now believe to be better. At least on "Law and Order," the bad guy wants to lawyer up right after seeing undeniable evedence of his culpability. Following the assumption that you are the good guy here, there is no need to draw attention to the need for an attorney or counsel. Rather than for legal defense purposes, it might be better understood by the police if you used the need to have some time to sort this stressful situation out in order to more clearly describe things later. Then be silent.

    As far as what you do say, keep to very short sentences that are easy to write down without screwing them up. Repeat them several times. Practice them beforehand.

    The criminal prosecuter here said he wants to look at police reports, witness testamony, the history of all involved, physical evidence, and anything that can help sort it out before charges are filed. From his point of view, the victim ought to help police get straightaway to the facts, and then be silent. He doesn't want the aggravation of putting someone away because they talked too much.
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    Member Array SirNapsAlot's Avatar
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    One of the advantages of having a fiancee who is an attorney.

    I just turn to the cop and say "Talk to her". :)
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