Whenever you have contact with police or federal agents, you should understand your rights. You may be questioned by local or state police officers or federal agents from the Department of Homeland Security, including Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Border Patrol, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the FBI, and/or other agencies. No matter your race, ethnicity, national origin, or religion, law enforcement officers must treat you fairly.
Under the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution, you have the right to remain silent, and you cannot be punished for not answering questions. You only have to answer questions if ordered by a judge, but by the time you’re in front of a judge, you should have already hired an attorney. Pennsylvania criminal defense lawyers Giribaldi & Manaras say that you have the constitutional right to speak to a lawyer before answering questions, even if the police officers don’t tell you that you have that right. If you are in doubt about what to say to a police officer, then you should exercise your right to silence and legal counsel first. It’s important to note that as of a recent Supreme Court ruling, the police are no longer civilly liable for failing to read you your Miranda rights.
What To Do If You Are Stopped And Questioned
There are two exceptions to the general rule that you do not have to answer questions:
- You must give your name to police officers to identify yourself.
- If you are arrested while driving, then you are required to show your license, vehicle registration, and proof of insurance.
Anything you say to a police officer can and will be used against you. If you have already started answering questions, then you can stop and say that you do not wish to answer more questions until a lawyer is present. Officers must stop asking you questions when you say that you want to exercise your right to remain silent and want a lawyer present.
Never lie to a police officer or federal agent. It’s better to remain silent than to be dishonest with a government official. It is unlawful to give a false name or documents, and you can make your case a lot more complicated if you do. Instead, get an attorney who will protect your rights. Do not obstruct the officers or interfere with their investigation.
Most importantly, stay calm. The situation can escalate quickly if the wrong actions are taken. Sometimes police officers threaten subpoenas if their questions aren’t answered, but you still do not have to answer them. In truth, they may never get a subpoena. Remember: you must answer questions only when you go to court and are asked by a judge. Being stopped by the police is a bewildering occurrence but having a lawyer by your side will make the process smoother and you will have the legal counsel you need. If you are being threatened by police, then assert your right to not say anything that could be used against you in a criminal case and to a lawyer’s guidance.
What Do I Do If I Am Concerned About Police Misconduct During My Stop Or Arrest?
Police officers no longer have to advise you of your right to remain silent, but they still cannot search your home, car, or person without a warrant or your consent. If law enforcement has violated your rights, then immediately request to contact a criminal defense attorney.