What to do if you are contacted by the police for questioning.
Many people believe they can talk their way out of anything, but when it comes to speaking with the police less is more. No matter your situation, any encounter with the police should be approached with caution.
In 1966, the historic case of Miranda v. Arizona declared that any person taken into police custody must be read their Fifth Amendment rights before questioning. The intended purpose is to protect suspects from answering self-incriminating questions. You probably know these rights well because we often see them on television and in movies, but just in case:
1. You have the right to remain silent.
2. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.
3. You have the right to an attorney.
4. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you.
The best way to be prepared for an interaction with the police is to be informed beforehand. Knowing your Fifth Amendment Rights is an important first step. Here are a few other things you should know:
1. You are not required to give any information to the police, unless you are arrested. In the event of an arrest, you must provide your name, address and date of birth. You also cannot lie to the police. You have the right to remain silent, but lying is a serious offense.
2. If an officer or detective leaves a card on your door or leaves you a voicemail, contact a lawyer right away. Many times they want to meet with you to collect a statement or formally arrest you.
3. If the police are trying to contact you, know that an attorney can contact the officer on your behalf.
4. You should always have an attorney with you if you are asked to the police station for an interview or questioning.
5. Most defendants make their cases worse by speaking with law enforcement voluntarily. Police officers can testify for a case, but not on the side of the defendant.
The police are excellent at their jobs and are merely following procedure when conducting an investigation. You too should be prepared. Know your rights and know who will represent you in the event you are contacted by police for questioning.