Don’t Talk to the Police: A Case Study
The police aren’t perfect.
That statement is not a secret, but it is also something you don’t often read or hear.
The police are powerful. They have a presence. They are able to get you to do and say things that work against you if you are being investigated for a crime. Yes, you have rights, but they know the rules better than you and can use them to their advantage.
That is why a recent post emphasized how important it is for you not to talk to the police.
One of the highest trending podcasts right now proved this point further: In the Dark. If you are listening to that podcast, you will know that a recent episode perfectly encapsulated why having a lawyer is so important when dealing with the police. It provides an ideal case study for this important fact.
On the night that Jacob Wetterling went missing, Dan Rassier – who lived near the scene of the abduction – helped police look for him. He thinks, even before that, he may have seen the abductor’s car turning around in his driveway. By all accounts, it appeared that Dan was doing his best to help the investigation.
Years later, however, the police changed its theory on the investigation, and that led them to treat Dan as a suspect. As it often does, it all started with a phone call. An investigator asked Dan to come in to the sheriff’s office to "talk”.
Now, here is where Dan should have known that he was going in to see the police, which meant that he needed to bring a lawyer with him. Sure, he had no reason to believe he was a suspect, but this was an open case. Dan lived nearby. He had made himself a part of the investigation. The police aren’t perfect. They might have suspected the wrong guy.
He didn’t consult a lawyer, though. Dan visited investigators alone. In hindsight, he admitted, “I went in blind. I didn’t even know…”.
After a few minutes of small talk, Dan said that the police told him, “You took him. How did you do it? … Will you please just admit that you did it, and then we can make this a lot easier for you?"
Think about that. We know that Dan Rassier is innocent; a man named Danny Heinrich confessed during the summer to the abduction and murder of Jacob Wetterling. At the time of this conversation, however, the case was unsolved. Dan Rassier went to "talk” to the police and was blindsided with an accusation of guilt. The police had created a false theory and were now demanding a confession from an innocent man.
Police Are People, Too:
On television, police detectives solve crimes at the end of an hour’s worth of work, usually on the basis of an inspired thought or hunch. Real life does not work that way. Police can only work with the evidence they have and the conclusions they draw from it. Sometimes, like with the Stearns County Sheriff’s Office in the Wetterling case, they get it wrong.
The worst part of this particular podcast episode was the “evidence” that led investigators to Dan:
- He was detail-oriented (since when is that a bad thing?);
- He taught music in school (which means that he was around kids all day);
- He had a relationship years ago that ended poorly; and
- He only got one Christmas card during the holidays.
This was obviously a weak list. It was so weak, in fact, that the judge signing the search warrant needed the investigator to make up additional evidence on the spot in order to approve it.
“Person of Interest”:
When police are wrong, it can lead to severe consequences. After Dan Rassier was named as a “person of interest” in the Wetterling case, his life was turned upside down. He was forever labeled. Anyone with a working knowledge of Google could see his unfortunate attachment to the abduction. He lost his job. No woman would date him. His property was destroyed when police searched for Jacob. He even claims that the stress caused an early death for his father.
No one will ever know what would have happened if Dan had hired a lawyer, but we know what happened because he didn’t. If you are being, or recently have been, asked to meet with the police, contact a lawyer first. Call or e-mail today for a free consultation!
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Every legal matter is different. The outcome of each legal case depends upon many factors, including the facts of the case, and no attorney can guarantee a positive result in any particular case. The outcome of every case will depend on a variety of factors unique to each case and case results depicted here do not guarantee or predict a similar result in any future case.
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The blog posts contained on this website were written, in part, by a non-lawyer employee of Jordan B. Davies. However, each post has been carefully reviewed and edited by Jordan B. Davies to ensure legal accuracy and compliance with the Rules of Professional Conduct.