Q: A certain detective came to my house and pounded on the door until I came out. He talked about me being in a certain place and kept saying I knew why he was there and “don’t bullshit me!” I told him to get a warrant and get off my property. (Pittsburgh, PA)
A: It may mean that he has no evidence, or not enough evidence and by getting you supply the details, he will have enough evidence to arrest and maybe convict you. For example, if you say something like, “yeah, I was there, but I didn’t do anything”, that puts you at the scene which he may have not known or can only establish through some sketchy witness. Now, you have admitted to being at the scene, and he has enough to arrest you. So, the advice of most attorneys would be to say nothing and hire an attorney. You have a 5th Amendment right to not incriminate yourself.
Q: Me and a co-worker (who threatened me with bodily harm) got into an argument. Then she said I did something to her car and stated there was a video. But the video doesn’t have my face on it and it wasn’t me. It happened a month ago and now a detective has called and just left a message that he wanted to talk to me. He never said come down and talk face-to-face but he wanted to talk to me over the phone. There is no warrant for my arrest. What should I do? (Pittsburgh, PA)
Q: Do not speak to this person. You have a 5th Amendment right to remain silent. Whoever this person is, a police officer, a private detective or whatever, he or she is likely not acting in your best interest. Your statements may be used against you. The best advice for you is to get an attorney with whom you can share all the facts in confidentiality, and then decide the best way for you to proceed, which may be remaining silent or speaking with this “detective” in the presence of your counsel.
Q: As a Commonwealth witness, can I be incarcerated indefinitely because I refuse to testify in a criminal case in Pennsylvania? The Assistant District Attorney wants to revoke bail for the other witness and have him remain in jail because he refuses to testify in a criminal case.
A: The other witness has some issues and I hope that he or she has a lawyer. It sounds like he or she is on bond for a crime and it may be a bond conditions that he or she “cooperate” with the Commonwealth. If that is the case, he or she is in a tough situation if they now wish not to testify. As for you, you are not saying here that you are on bond or you are part of the case as a co-defendant, which makes a difference. First, you need to be served with a subpoena. You should review this with your attorney to see if you may incriminate yourself by testifying. If you will incriminate yourself by testifying, the attorney may advise you invoke your 5th Amendment rights and not to testify. If you will not incriminate yourself and have no 5th Amendment protection, and you are merely a factual witness, you have no right to not testify. However, if you wish, you can tell the Assistant District Attorney that you will not testify. The ADA can ask the judge to hold you in contempt of court for not testifying which can result in you being jailed and a contempt hearing being set. It doesn’t mean it will happen. If you want to play chicken with the ADA and the Court, you can refuse to testify until the judge tells you he will hold you in contempt and incarcerate you. At THAT point, you have a big decision to make. I don’t recommend playing chicken if you do not have a 5th Amendment right to protect. Again, I would consult with a lawyer to determine your rights.