Interviewer: How often do you get calls from people who’ve been approached by the police or the police called and say, “We want you to come down and talk to us. You’re not under arrest, but we need you to help clear stuff up”?
Sam Sachs: That’s one of their techniques. “Clear stuff up” baloney. They’re either calling you because you’re a central witness against someone else, which is maybe two percent of the time; 98% of the time, they want to pin something on you and what they want to do is fill in the blanks that they don’t have.
You Should Talk to the Police Only in The Presence of Your Attorney
Interviewer: What do you tell people that are approached like that or called like that? What should they do?
Sam Sachs: They should tell the police that they’re represented by an attorney, that I’m the attorney, and that I’ll deal with the police, and I do. I call them and I say, “I’ve never met a defendant that was helped by speaking to the police, so if you’re going to tell me that you have some reason you’re going to help my client if they speak to you, let me know. If not, they’re standing on their Fifth Amendment rights and I’d be glad to talk to you about the case if you’d like.” Usually they laugh, because I know what I’m doing and defendants get lulled into this false sense of security. “Well, I feel like if I’m really cool with the cops, maybe they just won’t do anything to me.” Please!
Juveniles are the worst because parents bring their kids in and say, “I brought you up to tell the truth. Now you tell the officer exactly what happened,” and then after they’re done confessing, they call me and say, “What do I do? What do I do?” I say, “Well, it’s a shame you didn’t call me ahead of time because I would have advised you not to tell your kid to tell the truth about everything, and just not to make a statement. Not to lie, but not to make a statement.” Unfortunately, they helped the police make their case by coercing the kid into confessing.
It happens a lot with juveniles. “I brought them up to do the right thing. Now you tell the cops exactly what happened.” Okay.
Usually Police Threaten People with an Arrest and a High Bail
Interviewer: What happens if the police pressure you though? They say, “Look, you’ve got to tell us or it’s going to get really bad for you or we’re going to arrest you.” What do people do then?
Sam Sachs: Usually what they do is threaten you with a high bail. “If you talk to us and you’re cool with us, and you cooperate, we’ll release you on a summons. If not, we’re going to throw you in the county jail on a warrant.” Those are the people that I hope call me before they go to speak to the police because I’ll say, “Look, if they want you, I’ll negotiate your surrender. I’ll negotiate your bail ahead of time. I’ll bring you in and you don’t have to talk to them.” Don’t let them get into the position where they think, “Oh my, I’ll never survive if I am in county jail. I don’t want to go there.”
Instead we make arrangements ahead of time so they know exactly what they’re going to need to do. I give their family members my cell phone number. Family members are made aware of what resources they need or whether they’re going to need a bail bondsman, and it’s a silly reason to be coerced into making a confession.
In New Jersey a Lot of Municipal Judges Give the Police the Authority to Set Bail
The other thing is, unfortunately, in New Jersey, a lot of the municipal judges give the police the authority to set bail. They set high bails because they want people to be scared and talk to them. What I’ll say is, if there’s a high bail set, I know it’s uncomfortable to have your loved one in jail for a day or two, but we’ll go and ask for a bail hearing and if the bail is unreasonable, I’ll get a reduction. In New Jersey, for certain crimes, you can post a 10% bail, which means that you give the state 10% rather than a bail bondsman 10%. As long as the defendant shows up, you get your money back.
Let’s say it’s a $50,000 bail, 10% is allowed, and they pay 10% to the court. As long as the defendant shows up, they get the 10% – $5,000 – back, whereas if they go to a bail bondsman and buy a $50,000 bond, it costs them $5,000 and that money is gone. Now they’ve blown their money on getting their loved one out of jail, and instead, now they have no money to pay a lawyer. How much sense does that make? It happens so often you wouldn’t believe it.
Being Proactive and Hiring an Attorney As Soon as Possible May Mitigate Circumstances
Interviewer: How can you be polite to the police so they won’t make it worse for you, but still you refuse to give them info?
Sam Sachs: You just have to hang tough and that’s why it’s easier for me to hang tough for a defendant. I’ve called police stations and a loved one will call me and say, “Hey, my wife just got arrested.” That’s a case I remember vividly. They were taken away on a child endangerment charge and I said, “Which police? Where’s she going?” He told me which police station. I called up on a recorded line. I said, “Hi, I’m Samuel Sachs. I’m an attorney. You probably know who I am. I represent Mrs. So-and-So. She’s just been arrested. I want to speak to the officer in charge of the station.” They put the officer in charge on. I repeat what I said again. “It’s now 3:20 in the afternoon and you are not to take any statements from my client under any circumstances Period.”
They break that, whatever the defendant says goes out and that’s how you avoid them from being pressured – by being proactive and hiring an attorney as soon as you can.