When Sarah Jackson called police to report that her car had been stolen and was told that it was impounded in connection with a robbery, she never imagined that she would be treated like a suspect – but that’s exactly what happened.
It’s understandable that Denver police are the suspicious types when it comes to theft. Just in the last few months, a man stole a cell phone from a paraplegic; two people lifted a radioactive gauge from a car, and a respected business manager for a well-known primary school was charged with stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from their accounts. When you live a large city, people steal, and sometimes it can be difficult to tell the good guys from the bad guys. But that doesn’t mean that the police should simplybe allowed to intimidate people into confessing to a theft they weren’t involved in.
The Case of Sarah Jackson’s Stolen Car
That brings us back to Sarah Jackson. After realizing that her car was missing, she called the police to report it stolen. Much to her surprise, they told her that the car had been involved in a robbery and was impounded. When she met with an officer the next day to pick up her car, Jackson was instead taken to an interrogation room, where she discovered that she was a prime suspect in the robbery. Supposedly, a security guard had followed her home and identified the vehicle, which led the police to impound it.
When Jackson informed the officer that she hadn’t even left home on the day of the robbery, “She told me I was a liar several times, that I was lying and that she had witnesses. She told me I could get my car back when I was ready to tell the truth.” Needless to say, Jackson was shaken and intimidated. The police had not only made her feel like a criminal when she had done nothing wrong, but also taken her car on evidence that later was revealed to be faulty.
Now, no one is trying to demonize the Denver Police Department. They have a tough job, and as soon as they realized their error, they apologized to Jackson and returned her car. The point, though, is that mistakes can happen, and you should never confess to something because you feel intimidated into doing it. Had she confessed, Jackson might have ended up as just another horror story of miscarried justice.
How to Handle Police Intimidation
If you believe that you are being intimidated by the police, you need to understand your legal rights. Do not admit guilt. Instead, demand to speak to a lawyer and then exercise your right to remain silent. This way, you can avoid unintentionally incriminating yourself by making an offhand comment that officers misinterpret. Remember, it isn’t your place to argue with or stand up to the police – that’s one of many things that professional criminal attorneys are trained to do.
When your attorney does arrive to talk to you, make sure that you detail everything that’s happened. You want a record of any instances of intimidation, and you want it to be as specific and accurate as possible. This can be an important tool to either get the police to back off and leave you alone or as evidence to present in court should you need to go to trial.
About the Author:
Kimberly Diego is a criminal defense attorney in Denver practicing at The Law Office of Kimberly Diego. She obtained her undergraduate degree from Georgetown University and her law degree at the University of Colorado. She was named one of Super Lawyers’ “Rising Stars of 2012” and “Top 100 Trial Lawyers in Colorado” for 2012 and 2013 by The National Trial Lawyers. Both honors are limited to a small percentage of practicing attorneys in each state. She has also been recognized for her work in domestic violence cases.