The Police Are Asking Me To Cooperate Against A Friend
Sometimes, after arresting, or even before arresting a suspect, the police or prosecutor may suggest that they cooperate with the authorities against another target. This police tactic is most commonly associated with drug cases but it can come up in any kind of investigation. The police often say that if the suspect cooperates, they will receive a more lenient sentence, or might even get their charges dismissed altogether. Therefore, the offer of cooperation can be tempting, especially if the suspect is facing serious charges that carry a high prison term.
What is Cooperation?
What exactly is meant by the term “cooperation”? There are two basic types of cooperation — passive and active. Passive cooperation means providing the police with information. For example, detailing who in the community is selling drugs, where the transactions are taking place, the types of drugs being sold, and in what quantity. Active cooperation takes it a step further, and the cooperator assists in the investigation itself. Often this takes the form of a “controlled buy”, where the cooperator arranges to buys drugs from the target while the police monitor, and usually audio record, the operation. If done well, this is compelling evidence in court. Finally, whether passive or active. the person cooperating may eventually need to testify in court against the defendant.
Most people get nervous around police, even those who don’t have anything to hide. Being brought in on a legal case can be daunting. Being asked by the police to cooperate against one of your friends can be an even trickier situation. You may feel conflicted between your loyalty to your friend and your desire to help law enforcement. It’d be odd if you weren’t. Understanding how to navigate the situation can make it a little less stressful and potentially lead to a better outcome for you.
- Understand your rights | Before you do anything else, make sure you understand your legal rights. You have the right to an attorney. Don’t feel pressured to answer any questions or give any information without first consulting with a lawyer. Even if you haven’t done anything wrong, it’s important that you have someone advocating and advising you.
- Consult with a lawyer | If you’re unsure about what to do, it’s always a good idea to consult with a lawyer. They can help you understand your rights, evaluate the situation, and give you advice on how to proceed.
- Don’t lie to the police | If you do decide to talk to the police, it’s important to be truthful. Lying to the police can have serious consequences and could even land you in legal trouble. If you’re uncomfortable giving information, it’s better to stay quiet and seek the advice of an attorney.
- Consider your friendship | Think carefully about your relationship with your friend. Are they a close friend or just an acquaintance? How serious are the allegations against them? These are all important factors to consider. In fact, thinking about these can make a difference in how you see your friend overall. They might be an awesome person or they might a terrible friend taking you down the wrong path.
- Understand the risks | Consider the potential risks cooperating with the police. How much danger will cooperating put you in? How will you feel about yourself? How will it impact your reputation? If you cooperate and still go to prison for some period of time, keep in mind that the other inmates may have ways of learning that you cooperated. This could lead to you being labeled as a “rat” and potentially facing danger while incarcerated.
- Consider the benefits | On the other hand, how much lower of a prison sentence are you likely to receive as a result? Take some time to think about the possible outcomes before making a decision and make sure you talk through all of this with your attorney before making your decision.
- Don’t feel pressured | Remember that you’re under no obligation to cooperate with the police. Don’t let them pressure you into giving information or making a statement. Take your time, consider your options, and make the decision that feels right for you.
- Be prepared for fallout | Be prepared for potential fallout. Your friend may feel betrayed or hurt, and your relationship may suffer as a result. Understand there will be consequences to your actions, both legally and personally.
There are No Guarantees
One of the most common questions people posed with this decision ask is, “what will the police promise me if I help them?” Unfortunately, police will never make an outright guarantee as to the end result. They may make an “off the record” suggestion as to what the end result will be but the most they will officially promise is that the person’s cooperation will be “taken into account” at the time of sentencing. Therefore, a person being asked to cooperate will never usually know exactly how much benefit their cooperation will bring them.
We have seen this play out in both direction. On the one hand, we have seen clients cooperate with the police, and end up with what they considered to be a fair result – either the charges being completely dismissed or heavily reduced. On the other hand, we have seen instances when the clients provide substantial assistance and do not feel that the police or prosecutor adequately took it into account when deciding their sentence. In some cases, the cooperator engages in multiple controlled buys and yet the police insist on more and more, claiming that the job is never done.
Deciding to cooperate is a high risk-high reward decision. You don’t want to lose your friend, or be labeled as a rat, but you also don’t want a long prison sentence. So if police are asking you to cooperate against a friend and you need help navigating a situation like this, contact our experienced New Hampshire legal team. We can advise you on the best course of action for you and help reach the most favorable outcome possible.