When we are in stressful situations, we often forget to stay calm or to assert our rights. It can be difficult to keep a clear head when faced with pressing questions from authority. However, what you do when talking to the police can have a big impact on your case. Here are a few things that you should not do when talking to law enforcement:
- Talk without your lawyer present
You have the right to remain silent and to request a lawyer. Anything that you say to the police can show up against you can be brought up in court. Interacting with police is stressful and can lead people to say things that are easily misconstrued, or even to make false confessions. It’s best to wait for your attorney to be present.
- Lie instead of staying silent
Sometimes, we have the gut reaction to deny and make up excuses, which aren’t always the truth. Again, remember that anything you say can show up in court. More seriously, lying to a government official is a crime. Even if you are free of the crime they are bringing against you, they may be able to punish you for that white lie you said in the heat of the moment.
- Get angry
Any time that you are encountering law enforcement, you want to give them as little to react to as possible. Even if it’s a ridiculous traffic stop, keep your cool. Heated reactions aren’t usually a good look in court.
- Trust everything the police say
Though police officers are meant to uphold the law, that doesn’t mean that they are always honest. Don’t take everything they say at face value because often, officers will lie in order to get information.
- Be unaware of your rights
Police officers have the authority to make certain types of stops in different situations. Each of these encounters also leaves you with different rights. In some cases, law enforcement may simply be asking questions and the encounter is consensual. In others, you may be detained and must stay. You have the right to ask the police officers you are talking to if you are free to leave or if you are under arrest.
While we hope you never have to have a stressful interaction with law enforcement, its best to know what to do if you ever are.
I have more questions. Where can I get answers?
At Nicholson Goetz & Otis, S.C., our experienced criminal defense attorneys understand the difficult situation you are facing and can help you understand your legal rights and options. Contact our office at 608-620-0018 to discuss your particular case and circumstances.