Common Misconceptions people have when approaching an Attorney.
Interviewer: What misconceptions do people have about being charged with a crime that you can dispel for us now? What do you hear when people come to your office or call you? Robert Callahan: One of the most common things I hear is, "The police didn't read me my rights." This goes to the difference between what you learn in law school and what you learn when you work in a courtroom. You see the difference when you start investigating things on your own on the streets, and you represent people and do an in depth workup of a case from start to finish. You learn that the Chicago Police and even the Illinois State Police and even some federal law enforcement agencies almost never read people their rights. By rights I mean your Miranda rights. An old case, Miranda vs. Arizona, is where the Supreme Court said that, upon arrest, every single US citizen must be advised that they have certain rights upon being arrested. Those rights are the right to remain silent, the right to be informed that anything they say and do can and will be used against them in a court of law, and that they have a right to have an attorney present, and if they are not wealthy enough to provide their own attorney that the government of the state or government of the United States will provide them with their own attorney. Now, what you learn is that the police almost never say something like that to someone if there is an ongoing investigation because the people will say, "Yeah, well I want my attorney here." If they do advise a person of their rights, they will breeze over it in a very cursory manner and say, "You don't need an attorney for this. We are going to work this out. There is going to be no problem here. We're going to speak to the prosecutor on your behalf. We are going to get the case dismissed. It is going to go a lot easier on you if you don't actually request an attorney." So, people think they didn't read me my rights. The problem is, and this comes back again, one of the things you learn is a practical matter practicing law is that the police, for whatever reason, are willing to stretch the truth or almost outright lie in almost case. Interviewer: Are the police allowed to lie to you? The Police absolutely cannot lie to you under any circumstances. Robert Callahan: No. Of course not. In those rare circumstances where you can actually demonstrate that the police have lied, you will be able to win a case almost every single time. That is very rare though because there is a code of silence among the police. One of the reasons I am an effective attorney is I understand what it is like to be a police officer. I have friends who are police officers, so I know what they think. They think, "I'm not going to let this evidence get suppressed because of a technicality in the law." Sometimes the police take justice into their own hands and feel justified because the end justifies the means. They think they can stretch the truth, exaggerate, underemphasize facts that may point to innocence, and overemphasize facts that point toward guilt just because they think the person is guilty. Interviewer: So, we talked about people thinking they are doomed without talking to an attorney first, and we talked about Miranda rights and when they apply and when they don't. What other misconceptions do people have when they come to see you or when they talk to you? Robert Callahan: The misconceptions are that the police are going to be honest when you get to court, and the fact that they did not read you your rights or that they violated something is actually going to come to light in a courtroom. It is not. The police are going to continue to lie, even when they are under oath. They are going to continue to stretch the truth because they feel like that is just.