Beginners Guide to Police Questioning

Do I have to talk to the police? NO! You have an absolute RIGHT to remain silent. We have all seen this trick play out on television or in a movie.  The cop turns to the suspect and says, “it will be much better for you, if you work with us…” or “I am not trying to get you in trouble, I am just trying to find out what happened.” Fast forward to the middle or the end of the show and you see that same suspect being tried for a crime and the prosecutor using his own words against him.

If you find yourself in a similar situation, where you are confronted by police for “questioning,” you should immediately tell the police officer that you wish to have a lawyer present before answering any questions.

Along the same lines, it is quite common for us to want to share our story on social media.  That being said, DO NOT DO IT. In the majority of cases when an individual decides to speak with the police, his or her statements are used against them at trial. More often than not, the police have only circumstantial evidence, but your own confession or incriminating statements (often made voluntarily on your own social media account) could be the final nail in the coffin.

There is one minor exception – your name and contact information. When the police have reason to believe that you have committed a crime or are about to commit a crime, they can stop you and ask information related to your identity.  If the conversation starts to go beyond those simple questions and introductions, nicely ask the officers if they are detaining you or whether you are free to leave. If they say you are free to leave, do so calmly. If they say that you are not free to leave, let them know that you will not answer any additional questions without your lawyer present. You are not required to talk to police or do anything more than provide them with your identification. Do not give them any additional information or answer any other questions without a lawyer present.

Lastly, always remember to be polite to the police officers and never interfere or obstruct their investigation.

In summary:

  1. You do not need to say anything (beyond providing your contact information in limited circumstances). You have an absolute RIGHT TO REMAIN SILENT.
  2. Ask if you are free to leave; if they say yes, then do so calmly.
  3. If you are not free to leave, ask why.
  4. If you are arrested, you have a right to an attorney. Ask for an attorney immediately and say you will not answer any questions without your attorney present.

 

Rudman Winchell Attorney Caitlyn S. Smith
Caitlyn S. Smith, Esq
Rudman Winchell
207-947-4501