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What do you have to say to the police?

On Behalf of | Dec 11, 2023 | Criminal Defense

People often assume that they have to talk to the police. This is because people are conditioned over time to believe that they have to submit to someone in a position of authority. In school, this could be their teacher, while it may be their boss once they are old enough to work. In any case, most people view police officers as authority figures, and so they believe that they have to engage in conversations and do anything they are asked to do, if it is a law enforcement officer who is initiating an interaction.

But is that actually true? What do you have to say to the police and what rights do you have? Don’t assume that you have to do everything that they ask just because they are in uniform.

The right to remain silent

First and foremost, remember that you don’t have to incriminate yourself and you have a right to remain silent. You don’t even have to answer most of the questions that the police may ask. For example, say that the police pull your car over and the officer asks you where you are going. You don’t have to tell them. The officer may also ask you if you’ve had anything to drink today or if you know how fast you were driving. Once again, you don’t have to say anything.

You may be required to identify yourself in some situations. Getting pulled over in your car means that you do need to present your driver’s license, registration and proof of insurance to the police. You cannot ignore an officer entirely, but you don’t have to say anything after fulfilling these basic requirements. If you are placed under arrest, you will need to invoke your right to remain silent explicitly and ask to speak with an attorney before questioning can commence.

What should you do?

You don’t want to escalate the situation. Simply ignoring an officer or bluntly refusing to answer without explanation may just make your scenario worse. It is best to remain calm and in control the entire time. Thus, if police officer begins asking you questions that you don’t want to answer at the moment, simply tell them that you would not like to say anything without your lawyer present. Once you inform them of this and remind them of your right to remain silent, they should stop asking you questions entirely.

Being interrogated by the police can certainly be intimidating. It is often best to have a skilled legal team at your side so that you don’t make any mistakes and so that you understand how to exercise your rights effectively.