There are several ways to respond if the police want to question you. However, you should exercise your Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights under the US Constitution by remaining silent and tell them you want an attorney. This response will protect your legal rights and possibly undermine investigatory efforts if the police want to interview or interrogate you.
Then, ensure you start looking for legal representation. Ignoring police questioning attempts will not make their efforts go away. Law enforcement will simply continue to investigate the case without you. At least this way you won’t be giving them evidence to build a case against you.
In This Article
A Pennsylvania criminal defense lawyer in Philadelphia at Shuttleworth Law answers the following eight frequently asked questions related to investigations.
Let’s get started with an overview of police questioning and why you should avoid talking to them.
What Is Police Questioning?
Police questioning is an investigatory technique that officers and detectives use to obtain evidence about a suspected criminal matter. It can also be broken down into two types of police questioning, including interviewing and interrogations. Police interviews are more informal and are primary for gathering information, whereas an interrogation seeks an implication or confession.
Why You Shouldn’t Talk to the Police
In a criminal trial, the prosecution cannot introduce evidence when you choose to remain silent. If you respond to some questions but not to others and are selective in your responses, the interview will be admissible as evidence. Essentially, this casts doubt on why you answered questions the way you did.
It is recommended that if you choose not to answer specific police questions, then do not answer any questions at all. Instead, contact a criminal defense lawyer immediately to see what they say about your situation.
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Why Do the Police Want to Talk to Me?
The police want to talk to you because they believe you have information about criminal activity or think you committed a crime. You should enter the police questioning process with that knowledge at the forefront of your mind. It is essential to have a lawyer for all police interviews and interrogations.
Do You Have to Answer Police Questions?
No. Generally, you do not have to answer police questions. You have the legal right to remain silent if the police want to question you.
What Do You Say to Police When Being Questioned?
First, ask the officer why they are stopping or calling you. Here is a simple and polite statement that you can offer to them if you find out they want to question you:
“At this point, I will exercise my right to remain silent. Are you detaining me, or am I free to go, officer?”
That’s all you have to say. If the police are not detaining you, you can leave or hang up the phone. Your next step is to start looking for legal advice and find out what is (or could) happen.
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Can Police Question You Without Lawyer?
Yes, police can question you without a lawyer. However, they must cease all questioning when you invoke your Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights if you’re in custody. These rights allow you to ask for a lawyer when being investigated, arrested, or tried for a criminal offense.
If you’re not in custody when they’re trying to ask you questions, they may persist because they’re allowed to. In these circumstances, just be polite yet firm that you are not answering questions and that you want a lawyer.
Can Police Force You to Come in For Questioning?
No, the police cannot force you to come in for questioning. However, you should not ignore their requests entirely since the investigation will continue with or without you. They can also obtain a search warrant for your premises or come and arrest you if they believe they have sufficient evidence to prosecute.
A lawyer will help you to choose the best path to take in these circumstances.
Related Article: Can the Philadelphia Police Lie to You?
Why Do You Need a Lawyer for Police Questioning?
You need a lawyer for police questioning because interrogations attempt to gather evidence against you or someone else. If they question your involvement, then your lawyer will help you avoid illegal questions and self-incriminating statements.
Even if the police are questioning you about someone else, you could make statements that implicate your involvement in the crime. Simply put, hire a lawyer for police questioning to prevent unintended legal consequences.
Related Article: Why Hire a Philadelphia Criminal Defense Lawyer?
Can You Hire a Lawyer for Police Questioning?
Yes, you can hire a lawyer for police questioning. If you do, your lawyer will direct all communications to our offices and share new developments with you as they arise. However, hiring a lawyer does not guarantee that police will leave you alone or that the investigation will go away.
Should they get further in their case and file charges against you formally, your police questioning attorney can then defend you in court. If the case goes to court, then we can get started on your defense early by suppressing evidence, filing court motions, and protecting your legal rights.
Do You Need Legal Advice?
Shuttleworth Law will help suspects with police questioning in Pennsylvania and South Jersey.
Our Philadelphia criminal defense lawyer, Brad V. Shuttleworth, Esq., has years of experience aggressively defending clients and mitigating risk during police interviews and interrogations. Get a Free Case Evaluation now by calling (215) 774-1371 or message us online.
REMEMBER: Exercise your right to remain silent while reaching out for legal help.