You have probably heard various reasons why you should or should not talk to the police in different types of situations. These situations could include getting pulled over, receiving a phone call from a police officer or having one show up at your door to ask you questions.
You have a right to remain silent
The short answer is no. You do not have to talk to the police or answer their questions. You have rights under the U.S. Constitution, such as the right to remain silent and the right to have an attorney with you.
When requesting an attorney, you should make your request clear and explicit. Do not say something vague like you wish you had an attorney with you. Say that you want an attorney or that you are invoking your right to have an attorney present.
If the officers keep questioning you after your request, say nothing. If you keep talking, it could be assumed that you took back your attorney request.
It is important to recognize that this right applies even if you are arrested or in jail. You do not have to answer questions about the charges that you are in jail for or questions about another case.
What you can say and do
There are two exceptions to this rule. You can provide your name if asked. In a situation where you are pulled over and asked for your driver’s license, registration or insurance information, give the documents to the officer. However, you do not have to say anything.
Being questioned by police is scary and intimidating, and it is understandable that you might accidentally say something when you didn’t have to. Statements you made to police might be thrown out as evidence if there was a violation of your rights during questioning.
The best way to handle any interaction with police is to remain calm, stay silent and ask for an attorney. If you are arrested, an attorney can review the facts of your case and help you develop a defense strategy.