Being accused of a crime or being approached by law enforcement officers regarding a criminal case can be an intimidating experience. They may want to talk about it, but is it in your best interest? Should you consult with a lawyer first and then talk to the police? Or should you say nothing at all? When facing the possibility of criminal charges it is essential to know your rights in order to protect yourself. Having a sound understanding of your rights can provide structure and security when interacting with investigators during this difficult time.
In most cases, the answer is, “No”, you do not have to answer any questions asked by law enforcement without the presence or advice of an attorney. Exceptions include when you are pulled over by the police while driving. Because driving is a privilege you are required to provide identification. The most important thing to remember when facing law enforcement questions about a criminal case is this: Anything you say can be used against you in court, and even innocent statements said in the heat of the moment can be misinterpreted as evidence against you. It is always best to seek legal counsel before answering any questions.
As frustrating as this will sound always remember: The police are allowed to lie to you, but if you lie to them during their criminal case investigation you can be charged with obstruction. So, don’t answer their questions, but if you do DO NOT LIE.
Yes, you can. It is always recommended to obtain legal representation before interacting with the police or answering any questions related to a criminal case. If you are arrested or detained, you have the right to an attorney, and you should immediately ask for one before answering any questions. The key phrase is, “I want to speak to an attorney.” This invokes your right to counsel and the police must end all further questioning. If you simply say, “I don’t want to answer questions” (not invoking your right to counsel) they can continue or simply come back later.
There are a few exceptions to the general rule of not talking to law enforcement officers. If you are asked for identification, or if you are stopped and questioned, it is best to provide basic information. If an officer wants to conduct a pat-down search, you should comply, but if they ask to conduct a full search of your property or your vehicle, you have the right to decline the request until a warrant arrives.