It’s rare that anything good comes from a suspect or defendant talking to the police without a lawyer present. (See Invoking Your Right to Remain Silent.) But it sometimes, albeit rarely, makes sense for defendants—with their lawyers—to meet with members of law enforcement.
(For information on other kinds of meetings with the prosecution, see Can criminal cases be resolved without going to court?)
Every now and then, defense attorneys arrange for or agree to law enforcement interviews of their clients. The client and lawyer meet with the police (or other investigating personnel), the prosecution, or both. If they meet only with a police officer, the lawyer's goal might be to persuade the officer not to refer the case to the district attorney for prosecution, or to recommend the filing of less serious charges or no charges at all. (Lawyers generally try to persuade officers in this manner without a meeting that involves the client.) Likewise, if the meeting involves a prosecutor, the defense attorney might hope to convince the prosecutor to not file or to drop charges, or to agree to a reasonable plea bargain. (But pleas are usually negotiated without the defendant ever speaking with the prosecution; see Where does plea bargaining take place?)
Of course, there are significant risks to discussing a case with the government without a police report of the incident in question (part of discovery) or an in-writing agreement that the government won’t use any of the suspect’s statements in court or to otherwise try to incriminate him or her. (The police might, for example, use such statements as leads to find damaging evidence.)
It’s crucial that defendants consult attorneys before speaking with law enforcement. A knowledgeable lawyer can determine whether a meeting is plausible and could be beneficial, and will thoroughly prepare the client well in advance. Further, an attorney who is present during any such meeting can intervene when necessary and privately counsel the client.