I've been doing this over twenty-five years and I've had a lot of clients come to me and tell me that the police are lying about some aspect of their criminal case — either as part of the investigation or most of the time clients are claiming that the lies are related to a statement that the client allegedly gave to the police.
Of course, the prosecutors are using that particular statement in order to prosecute the person. I've noticed that most of the time when defendants give statements in criminal cases that usually ends up being the evidence that the prosecutors use to convict them in the case.
That's usually the most powerful evidence in the case because jurors ask themselves, why would somebody give a statement admitting guilt or makes it look like they're guilty if they weren't guilty? It just doesn't make any plausible sense unless the fact that they are guilty. So, that's usually the most powerful evidence that the police have in any given criminal case.
Testify at Jury Trial
So, you have to bear that in mind in order to try to get around that statement if that's what you choose to do if you want to fight your case, you're going to actually have to testify at a potential jury trial and explain to the jury that you didn't make that statement and explain your version of events.
Ways that I've found to attack the police when they're lying, for example, claiming that you gave a statement that you did not give, is to ask the police, do you have the statement recorded? Let's see the recordings. Do you have a video tape? Let's see the video tape.
Because if you don't have that, then how are we supposed to believe that the person made that statement. You guys in the LAPD now have bodycams. Why isn't it on the bodycam? That's certainly one way to attack the police when they lie.
Also, another way to attack them is by other surrounding circumstances. The police claim they see a certain thing or somebody says a certain thing and then you look at the circumstances surrounding that scenario and they don't add up and then you have obviously point that out to the judge or to a jury and say, the police are claiming this, this and this happened, but if these certain things happened, how come there's not other evidence to support that?
So, it's unfortunate because the police will claim that they see somebody commit a moving violation and that's how they justify stopping the person and the person says, no that's not true. I didn't do that, and the police say, yes they did do that.
So, now you're in a position where you've got your client's word against the police officers and that happens all the time. So, again, you have to look for other evidence to try to tip the balance in your client's favor.
Review of Dash Cam Evidence
For example, in a stop scenario, how about your dashcam. Let's see your dashcam video police officer. If that really happened — if my client really made an illegal turn, didn't have their lights on or whatever the case may be — then there should be some evidence to support that. Let's see your dashcam video. If they don't have the dashcam video that starts to put some doubt on whether or not they're telling the truth.
Another big issue that comes up is consent. Police claim all the time, that person said that I could search their car. That person said I could search their house. That person agreed to a pat-down search, for example. So, again, these are issues that come up all the time.
The client says, no I didn't consent to that. An example of how you can challenge that would be to say, okay if they consented to it, let's see the piece of paper that they signed saying that they consented to you being able to search their house. Go ahead, put it in my hand.
Then, you know, juries and judges start to question, how come you didn't have him sign a consent form if you were going to search their house. Because once they search the house they find all kinds of good evidence against you, so they're not going to let you sign a consent form because most people aren't going to sign a consent form.
They're not stupid enough to do that because once you sign that consent form for the search, you've now given them card blanche to be able to search whatever location you're agreeing that they can look into and if they find something, they're going to certainly be able to use that against you.
Challenge Police When They're Not Telling the Truth
So, as you can probably start to get the feel, in order to challenge the police when they're not telling the truth, when they're lying about an issue, you've got to have other evidence surrounding them.
You've got to have an advocate that can fight for you. That's why your criminal defense attorney is so crucial in these situations because your attorney is going to be the one that is going to be able to challenge the police, ask them questions, show the other side of the story — that the police are lying.
Your attorney is in the best position to try to challenge them, show they're lying, attack their credibility and a lot of times that ends up getting the case dismissed if it's done effectively and there is evidence out there to be able to use against the police or at least getting some sort of a lesser charge because the prosecutors see that these police officers are not telling the truth and that's not fair to the defendant.