What if the Columbus police want to question me? Here’s why the answer should be, “No.”

On July 3, 2009, Sergey Aleynikov, a former employee of Goldman Sachs, was arrested by FBI agents for improperly copying computer source code he helped develop for Goldman when he worked there. Believing the arrest was a misunderstanding, Sergey waived his right an attorney, sat down with the agents, and tried to clear the matter up.

In December 2010, Aleynikov was tried and convicted of stealing trade secrets (the computer code he wrote) and transporting stolen property (the same computer code). He was sentenced to 8 years in federal prison. After serving 11 months, the United States Court of Appeals reversed his conviction and entered a judgment of acquittal, finding that his conduct, even if it happened the way the government said it did, was not a violation of federal criminal law.

Aleynikov strongly believes one reason he was convicted was because the FBI agent he spoke on the night of his arrest took the witness stand and misrepresented what he said. Because Aleynikov’s statement was not tape-recorded, he was not it a position to refute or explain it.

In the September 2013 issue of Vanity Fair, Michael Lewis wrote about how this wrongful conviction occurred. Aleynikov gave Lewis important advice for anyone who is arrested or questioned by a law enforcement agent, saving his most important rule for last: “Don’t say a word to government officials,” Sergey said. “The reason is that, if you do, they (the prosecutor) can place an agent on the witness stand and he can say anything.”

If you talk to the police, when they are done interviewing you they will write a summary; and the summary may only contain a part of what you said, omit critical things you said, and mischaracterize what you said in a way that could incriminate you latter.

There are also solid reasons why you should not talk to the police even if the interview is being recorded; and every knowledgeable criminal defense attorney will tell you the same thing. Nothing good ever comes from talking to the police, unless it is done with the advice of an experienced criminal defense attorney.

If you or any loved one has been arrested, or is under investigation, for a serious criminal offense in Columbus or elsewhere in Ohio, please call one of our criminal defense lawyers in Columbus for a free initial consultation.

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