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The Police “Just Want to Talk”: Why You Need a Criminal Defense Attorney

Imagine this scenario: you receive a call from the police, and they say they “just want to talk” or they want to hear “your side of the story.” Maybe they even suggest that you don’t need an attorney for this informal chat. It might seem harmless or even reassuring, but these are red flags that should prompt you to immediately seek legal counsel. Here’s why having a criminal defense attorney by your side is crucial when the police contact you.

Understanding the Stakes

When law enforcement reaches out, it’s rarely a casual conversation. Even if you believe you’ve done nothing wrong, talking to the police without an attorney can have serious consequences. The police are trained to gather evidence, and their primary goal is often to build a case, not to clear up misunderstandings. Anything you say can and will be used against you.

“We Just Want Your Side of the Story”

This phrase is often used to make you feel comfortable and cooperative. However, the police might already have a narrative in mind, and they’re looking for statements that confirm their suspicions. Your words can be misconstrued or taken out of context, potentially leading to charges you never saw coming.

For example, in a heated moment, you might express frustration or use language that can be interpreted as incriminating. An attorney can guide you on what to say—or not say—to avoid unintentional self-incrimination.

“You Don’t Need an Attorney”

This is a significant warning sign. If the police tell you that you don’t need an attorney, it’s because they know an attorney would protect your rights and advise you to remain silent. They are hoping you will speak freely without understanding the potential legal repercussions.

Having an attorney doesn’t make you look guilty; it makes you look smart. An experienced criminal defense lawyer understands the law, the tactics used by police during interrogations, and how to protect your rights. They can advise you on whether to speak at all and, if so, how to do so in a way that minimizes risk.

The Role of a Criminal Defense Attorney

A criminal defense attorney acts as your advocate and protector throughout the legal process. Here’s how they can help:

  1. Advising on Interrogations: They can be present during police questioning to ensure that your rights are not violated and that you do not say anything that could be used against you.
  2. Understanding Charges: They can explain the charges you might be facing and the potential consequences, helping you understand the seriousness of your situation.
  3. Negotiating with Prosecutors: They can engage with the prosecution to negotiate plea deals or lesser charges, potentially avoiding a trial altogether.
  4. Building a Defense: They will gather evidence, interview witnesses, and develop a strategy to defend you against the charges.
  5. Ensuring Fair Treatment: They ensure that all legal procedures are followed and that you receive a fair trial if it comes to that.

Riotto Law – Protecting Your Rights

The U.S. Constitution guarantees you the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney. These rights are there to protect you, and exercising them is not an admission of guilt. It’s a wise decision to protect your future and ensure that you receive fair treatment under the law.

If the police “just want to talk,” your response should be: “I would like to speak to my attorney first.” This simple statement can prevent misunderstandings and protect you from potential legal pitfalls.


Being contacted by the police can be an intimidating experience, and it’s natural to want to clear things up quickly. However, without legal representation, you risk saying something that could be used against you. Always take police contact seriously and seek the guidance of a criminal defense attorney. Remember, protecting your rights is paramount, and an attorney is your best ally in navigating the complexities of the legal system.

If you find yourself in such a situation, don’t hesitate. Contact Riotto Law immediately and ensure that your rights are protected from the very beginning.

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James L. Riotto Attorney Photo
James L. Riotto
Criminal Defense Lawyer

James L. Riotto is an accomplished criminal defense attorney serving clients in New York. With an extensive background in law enforcement and criminal prosecution, his approach to each case is unique and informed by years of experience with the New York criminal justice system. As a graduate from Albany Law School and before going on to start his own practice, James worked at the Albany County District Attorney's Office, where he helped prosecute many DWI offenses. His inside knowledge of the tactics used to gain convictions provides him with a particular advantage when defending against DUI and other criminal charges.

Adam D. Staier Attorney Photo
Adam D. Staier
Of Counsel

About Attorney Adam Staier has spent the last seven years practicing criminal defense law throughout upstate New York and the Capital Region. He began his legal career through internships in civil law, indigent legal representation and federal energy law regulation. Finding a passion in criminal law, Mr. Staier held internships handling both prosecution and defense…

William M. Swift Attorney Photo
William M. Swift
Associate Attorney

About William M. Swift is an associate attorney at the Law Office of James L. Riotto and brings 20 years of experience to our clients. His practice focuses on personal injury cases and criminal matters. He has successfully represented individuals in felony, misdemeanor cases. Additionally, he has extensive knowledge in DMV administrative proceedings involving suspensions…

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