The Law Offices of John Phebus

Declining to speak until you have an attorney

When someone asks you a question, you are most likely to try to answer it. That’s human nature. But there are times when we should resist the urge to give people answers to questions.

An example of a time to decline to answer is when a Phoenix police officer has taken you into custody or placed you under arrest on suspicion of committing a felony. These are times to politely decline to answer questions until you have had a chance to speak with your criminal defense attorney.

We read recently of a suspected driver in a crash on Interstate 10. A 16-year-old girl was killed in the accident and several other people in the vehicle were hospitalized.

Arizona Department of Public Safety officers said the 19-year-old suspect gave conflicting statements after the car crashed into the base of a light pole. According to investigators, the suspect at one point said he was the driver of the car, and at another point said he was a passenger in the vehicle. He also said he could not describe the events that preceded the crash.

He also reportedly told officers that he had smoked marijuana prior to the accident.

It is likely not surprising that someone involved in such a violent collision would be shaken and unable to give a coherent, consistent statement.

The suspect in this case was booked into Maricopa County Jail on second-degree murder and a series of aggravated assault charges.  

It can make more sense for a potential defendant to decline to answer law enforcement questions about a possible crime until they have had time to speak with an experienced defense attorney about the circumstances, potential charges (or existing charges) before answering questions posed by police or prosecutors.

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