While policemen are officers of the law and are duty-bound to uphold its practices, you need to know how to protect your rights, under the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution, in the event that you are interrogated by a police officer. The interrogation may or may not take place as a part of an arrest. Yet, it doesn't matter; in either situation, you can follow the same steps to keep your rights intact.
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Be respectful in your interactions with the police officers. If you are asked to sit down or move to another area, do so. Do not give the officers any reason to arrest you -- if you haven't been placed under arrest -- or charge you with misconduct.
Give the officers your name and address when asked. Do so in a polite manner. Do not give any other information, such as your Social Security number, names of friends and relatives or other personal details. Police officers can use this line of questioning to draw you into answering other questions that may incriminate you.
Tell the officers that you will not answer any questions until you have had the opportunity to consult with your attorney. At this point, the police cannot interrogate you any further.
Do not say anything else or your right to remain silent is no longer in effect. Do not make casual conversation with any law enforcement officer. Keep completely silent.
Wait for your attorney and ask him to advise you on the best course of action.
Tips and warnings
- If an officer begins interrogating you in public, ask if you may leave before walking away. This will clear up any confusion and keep you from being arrested. If the officer tells you that you aren't free to leave, stay in place.
- Police who question you without arresting you can legally use the information you give them in a court of law. So, stay quiet even during pre-arrest questioning until you have consulted with your lawyer.
- If the police arrest you and question you without reading you your Miranda rights, the information they gather is not admissible in court.
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