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Jane, Recently, a few of my friends have been interrogated

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Jane, Recently, a few of my...
Jane,

Recently, a few of my friends have been interrogated by state detectives regarding a prank phone call made to a police officer's son. The person who did it apparently left a threatening message. I do not know who left the message, nor do any of my friends. The message was not left through my phone, and it is not my voice on the tape.

The detectives have gone as far as coming to school and waiting after class to find my friend and asking him questions. If they try and contact me, should I cooperate and answer questions or should I refuse to answer questions?

Again, the "victim" is a police officers son so it seems to me that they are trying to bother everyone and making a big deal out of a small issue. I do not know who left the message and it was not left from my phone, should I answer their questions if approached? Whatever person left the message, left it in mid October. Thanks!
Submitted: 9 years ago.Category: Criminal Law
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Answered in 20 hours by:
12/2/2008
Criminal Lawyer: Jane Doe Deer, Lawyer replied 9 years ago
Jane Doe Deer
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 3,896
Experience: Attorney since 1986; Plain English explanations
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Thank you for contacting Just Answer. I look forward to assisting you.

 

While we write back and forth, please keep in mind that I do not know what you already know or don't know, or with what you need help, unless you tell me. Sometimes I'm unable to read your entire question until AFTER I write back to you.

 

Although it's usually five minutes, sometimes there can be a delay of an hour or more in between my answers because I may be researching the answer to your question, helping other customers, or taking a break. If we are writing late at night, I may have to go to sleep and resume helping you the following morning.

 

I need the following information before I can answer your question:

 

Can you please tell me whether this question is for me? I only just saw it, and there's at least one other legal Expert named Jane here. Cool

 

I'll look forward to hearing from you,

 

Jane Doe Deer

 

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Customer reply replied 9 years ago
Yes, this is a question for you or whoever can help me quickest as I have a feeling I may be questioned tomorrow. Thanks and I look forward to hearing from you.
Criminal Lawyer: Jane Doe Deer, Lawyer replied 9 years ago

Usually people who ask me this is guilty and I tell them to keep quiet because anything they say can be used against them.

 

If you know nothing, saw nothing, heard nothing, have nothing at all to do with this and have no information at all, there's no harm in talking with law enforcement officers.

 

If you feel that you may be nervous, or they may try to trip you up somehow, there's no harm in writing out a statement, signing and dating it, and just handing it to the investigating officer. That also gives you the opportunity to have someone else read over your statement ahead of time to make sure it says what you want it to say, and doesn't say what you don't want it to say.

 

It's possible that the message that was left was really scary or threatening - that may be part of the reason this is being taken so seriously. Or, it may just be, as you think, because it's a police officer's son.

 

 

Jane Doe Deer
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 3,896
Experience: Attorney since 1986; Plain English explanations
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Customer reply replied 9 years ago
thank you for getting back to me, I have accepted the answer.

I did have one other quick question. The detectives are threatening that whoever left the message, offended the individual's ethnicity, and due to some new law that has been passed, the person who left the message could be charged with a felony hate crime. Are they just bluffing/ trying to scare someone to talk?

Criminal Lawyer: Jane Doe Deer, Lawyer replied 9 years ago

Probably not. A crime committed as a hate crime adds another element and another penalty to a crime. For example, if you hit someone BECAUSE, at least in part, he's another race, you can get charged with both assault and a hate crime.

 

It's like adding a "deadly weapon" charge in a way. For example, if you mugged someone by threatening someone with a gun, there's an added charge when compared with a mugging where you just threatened a person by being bigger and stronger than the other person.

 

I worked on the hate crime legislation in a former city in which I lived and also on the state legislation where I live and practice. A lot of people don't understand what the difference is, so I hope I explained it so it makes sense to you. :)

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Customer reply replied 9 years ago
Thank you, XXXXX XXXXX someone left a message wouldn't that be a misdemeanor for prank calling and then the hate crime aspect would be assessed after. What I'm trying to say if can a hateful message actually be escalated to something as serious as a felony over a phone call or would it just be considered a serious misdemeanor. Thanks again I think once that's answered I will completely understand. :)
Criminal Lawyer: Jane Doe Deer, Lawyer replied 9 years ago

I don't know whether hate crimes are misdemeanors or felonies where you are. But if hate crimes are felonies, then yes, the phone call could be escalated to a felony level.

 

Think of it from the victim's point of view. Let's say that the victim is African-American and the caller said something very threatening about lynching or worse. These things still happen in America, and the victim could, very reasonably, be very scared, depending on what was said and how it was said.

 

I would think that the police will be able to find the phone from which the call originated.

 

If you know who did this, advise him or her to get a good lawyer and keep his/her mouth shut.

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