So, you just received a phone call from the police, what should you do next? I see this situation come up fairly often and it usually results in one of three outcomes: outcome 1 is that you talk to the police and it is something minor and nothing comes of it; outcome 2 is that you talk to the police and unwittingly confess to a crime and make your life dramatically worse in the process; outcome 3 is that you call a lawyer and they determine whether you are dealing with outcome 1 or outcome 2 for you, so that you don't mess up your life. If you're not into lengthy explanations, outcome 3 is always the correct way to go.
Police do not exist to help you. They exist to do police work. And I am not anti-police by any means, but again, they aren't out to help you. Often police work means investigating crimes and zeroing in on suspects. If you get a call from police, there is a very good chance that they are investigating a crime and that not only that, the call means they've zero'd in on you as a suspect. In a perfect world, the investigative process would be more collaborative and less of an ends justify the means process; but as things around us are always making abundantly clear, this is not a perfect world. Police know that confessions make the vast majority of convictions. In the world of the police, only guilty people confess. If they use every coercive, tricky, shady, dastardly, deceptive and dishonest trick in the book to get you to confess, it is justified by the belief that only guilty people confess to things.
Now the actual truth is that confessions are often false and that people wrongfully confess to things for a myriad of different reasons. It is worth noting that this is not a debatable point, the literature is clear that false confessions are real. So, when you talk to a police officer, there is strong probability the officer is actively directing the conversation to a point where you will confess to a crime, whether you did it or not is immaterial. And it is human nature to try and guess what someone wants to hear, this couldn't be more disastrous with police because they want to hear that you did it.
The other reason that outcome 3 is correct is that most defense attorneys will be happy to talk over your situation with you, it is what we do for a living. If I can talk to someone for 15 minutes and then make a few calls on their behalf to address a problem, I'm 100% happy to do it. It is literally my job. And if it is something serious and you really need a lawyer, then you are better-off for having contacted one from the get-go. Most lawyers, including myself, will charge minimal to no fees for phone consultations.
So if you get a call from the police, call a lawyer!