A recent article in USA Today reinforced what I have seen for many years as a criminal defense lawyer. Smart people, who have been very successful in their lives, will often times think that they can solve their own problems with the police, and agree to cooperate. They think that this cooperation will result in leniency, or the police choosing not to have them arrested. Ofter times they are wrong.
Oliver Schmidt, served as Volkswagen's general manager for three years. He thought he could avoid being swept up in one of the largest automotive criminal investigations in U.S. history by cooperating with the FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice.
He was wrong.
Schmidt was arrested anyway in Miami on Jan. 7 while on Christmas vacation with his wife in Miami. This was despite what his lawyers say were hours spent cooperating with authorities last year.
Court documents filed recently in U.S. District Court in Detroit reveal that Schmidt, 48, thought his extensive cooperation with investigators made him a low priority for arrest.
Schmidt, who worked in the U.S. from 2012 to early 2015, contacted the FBI and willingly participated in an interview in London in November 2015 "without any preparation or legal counsel," his lawyers say in the court documents.
Never meet with law enforcement, state agencies, or any investigators of any kind without speaking to your attorney first. If you are pressured to make a decision immediately, politely decline. This is the best policy even if it does result in you being taken to jail, since often times they would have taken you to jail anyways, but if you cooperated, you would have given them more evidence to convict you at trial later on.
Many times, I will allow my clients to meet with law enforcement and various investigating agencies, but I will never do that without being present and usually without setting ground rules such as: what questions will be asked; and whether we will be recording the interview.