Don't Talk to the Police!
Most of us had an "Officer Johnson" in our lives when we were kids. Okay, so his name probably was not the same, but you at least had a law enforcement figure in your life. Officer Johnson was the police officer who visited your grade school when you were an impressionable young kid. He convinced you that police like you, protect you, and are on your side.
That can be true, although controversy surrounding the police has infiltrated the national conversation during the last few months. Additionally, if you are personally being questioned by the police, you are probably not feeling very liked and protected.
So when the police want to question you, should you talk? Officer Johnson says yes. Your lawyer is likely to say no.
The Problem with Police Questioning:
There are a number of situations in which the police might want to speak with you. Since this post cannot sufficiently cover that much territory, it will be general. Luckily, the solutions are pretty simple. You should be very hesitant to speak to police without first consulting an attorney or having an attorney present.
In concept, this makes sense. In reality, it can be very hard for those who were significantly influenced by Officer Johnson. You want to be someone who cooperates with “the good guys". You do not want to raise suspicion or risk getting into more trouble by not cooperating. It's counter-intuitive. It feels wrong.
But it’s not.
We are familiar with a person being read his rights on TV or in the movies. Some of us even remember learning about Miranda v. Arizona in high school. While there is no exact script for how those rights must be given, the following elements must be included:
- You have the right to remain silent;
- Anything you say can be used against you in a court of law;
- You have the right to consult with a lawyer and have that lawyer present during the interrogation; and
- If you cannot afford a lawyer, one will be appointed to represent you.
Also, it is important to remember these important tips:
- You can invoke your right to be silent before or during an interrogation, and if you do so, the interrogation must stop.
- You can invoke your right to have an attorney present, and until your attorney is present, the interrogation must stop.
Each one of these items lets you know that you can do two things: invoke your right to remain silent and have an attorney with you. This means that no one should feel like they cannot remain silent or request an attorney! It's your constitutional right.
The Miranda warnings, though, are only required if you are in police custody and being interrogated. Many times, police need/like to question people as they work through an investigation. If police are not required to read me my rights, can I still invoke my right to remain silent and have an attorney with me?
The answer is an emphatic YES.
If this appears a little confusing to you, just remember the following mantra: "Don't talk to the police". Whatever the situation, this advice will serve you well. And, as always, if you are faced with this type of situation, you need an attorney. Call or e-mail today for a free consultation!
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