As first reported today by Todd Archer of ESPN, police are seeking to speak with Dallas Cowboys Kelvin Joseph in connection to a fatal shooting on March 18th. Cameron Ray was 20 years old when he was fatally shot and killed after a March 18 altercation with a group of individuals that appeared to include Joseph. That is because there is allegedly video evidence of an individual wearing a YKDV necklace. Kelvin Joseph goes by the rap name “YKDV Bossman Fat.”
Aspiring attorneys are taught day one of law school to never speak to law enforcement without their attorney present. In this case, law enforcement likely has a strong suspicion at a minimum Mr. Joseph has information regarding the shooting. They may also believe that he may be the shooter himself. If Mr. Joseph is to speak to law enforcement, my advice would be to have an attorney present. The optics do not matter (i.e., I look guilty to law enforcement having an attorney present. No! You are smart). Even if you did nothing at all, always have an attorney present when speaking to law enforcement. The number of Defendants in the country who have had false confessions coerced in the last hundred years is staggering. People have spent their lives in prison over false or unconstitutional confessions. I have the utmost respect for law enforcement especially as a former felony prosecutor where I saw first-hand all the good, they do for the community. However, law enforcement officers are human too. They do make mistakes and they do cut corners. Unfortunately, there are situations where law enforcement develops theories right at the crime scene and they only see the evidence that supports their initial theory. It doesn’t matter how smart you think you are; they will lie to you and trick you during an interrogation. Why? It is because Iit is perfectly legal for law enforcement to lie to a suspect. That is because with a confession, they know the prospect of a conviction is very, very likely. The suspect’s criminal defense attorney will try to suppress the confession but if they can’t, they know a conviction is all but assured. That is because juries are always weighing the idea of whether the Defendant committed the act. With a confession, they did not need to think about the case long. They will vote to convict and move on with their lives.
It doesn’t matter who you are, if law enforcement asks to speak with you, politely respond that you would like an attorney present. An individual need only say the word “attorney” or “lawyer” and all questioning must cease immediately. Law enforcement is supposed to read you Miranda if the conversation turns from investigatory to accusatory, but they rarely do. The prosecution will then fight to keep the likely unconstitutional statements in because it gives them leverage in plea negotiations. Prosecutors LOVE to try cases where the evidence is overwhelming. They expect to win and they will be serenaded by their office when they do. They will very unlikely give a favorable plea recommendation if they think they have you dead to right. Many prosecutors fight to get significant trials. When I was a prosecutor, I observed many prosecutors who just pushed paper all day wondering why they are not getting trials. That is because very strong cases (murder cases excluded) rarely go to trial. They usually end in pleas. It is the weaker cases that usually go to trial. Those are the cases those same prosecutors do not want to try and you as the Defendant can get a very favorable disposition if not get your case dismissed entirely.
I may be using Kelvin Joseph as an example, but this advice applies to everyone who is being investigated by law enforcement for something. Don’t speak without your attorney present.
Matthew F. Tympanick is the Founder/Principal of Tympanick Law, P.A., located in Sarasota, Florida where he focuses his practice on Criminal Defense. He is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts School of Law where he served as a Public Interest Fellow and as a Staff Editor on the UMass Law Review. He was previously a felony prosecutor in Sarasota, Florida. In over three years as a prosecutor, he tried nearly forty jury and non-jury trials and prosecuted thousands more. You can follow him on Twitter @TympanickLaw. Arrested or Injured? Don’t Panic…Call Tympanick. www.tympanicklaw.com