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When (or if) Should I Speak with the Police if Suspected of a Crime?

Posted Monday, March 12, 2018 by Andrew Charles Huff

As a criminal defense attorney, I am asked frequently about when or if a person should speak with police and under if so, under what circumstances.

In answering these questions, here are some points to consider before speaking with the police:

First, the police are not required to be truthful or honest when speaking with or questioning anyone. Also, they are not required to tell the person they are questioning whether or not they are a suspect, or whether or not they are under investigation for a crime.

If you talk to the police and admit wrongdoing, that does not necessarily mean that you will not be charged with a crime, or that you’ll receive a better plea deal or lesser penalty. Beware that your words can always be used against you.You are not required to talk to the police, and the fact that you decline to talk to the police cannot be later used against you in a criminal trial– provided that you’ve properly invoked your right to remain silent.

If you decline to talk to the police, it’s no longer enough to literally be silent. Pursuant the U.S. Supreme Court in the 2010 case of Berghuis v. Thompkins, you must affirmatively indicate that you are invoking the right to remain silent (e.g. “I’m invoking my right to remain silent).

The best practice is to never talk to the police without an attorney or lawyer present. In addition to telling the police that you are invoking your right to silence, it’s also important that you ask them whether you are being detained or you are free to go. If you are free to go, do not speak with the police further and leave the area. Lastly, it’s very important that you tell them you are not consenting to any searches, and that you wish to speak with an attorney immediately. In an effort to get around statutory and constitutional rights, some police officers will attempt to suggest that any invocation of rights will make things worse for you. Do not be intimidated, do not be bullied, and do not be fooled. If you are detained– even if you are arrested– protect your legal interests by not giving up your rights. Maintain your composure, and contact our office at the earliest opportunity.

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