Getting Questioned by Police? What are Your Rights?

In just about every interaction with law enforcement, you can refuse to answer questions asked by police. However, depending on the circumstances, the outcome may be somewhat different. Whether or not you are in custody at the time of questioning may play a significant role in how police respond to your silence. Often times the police will want to talk to you regarding a crime that you may be a suspect.  Certainly contacting a Boston Criminal defense lawyer is your smartest and safest way to handle this, however, if you choose to speak to the police with an attorney present it’s important to know your rights.  Read on to explore three different scenarios and to learn how “staying mum” can impact the outcome of each.

Silence is Golden

If you are stopped out of the blue, you can refuse to answer police questions. Although the well-known Miranda warning (you have the right to remain silent) won’t be read to you in a brief investigatory stop, it is your right to refuse to answer questions. You may also ask if you are being detained. If you are, you must stay present. However, if police say you are not being detained, you can stop talking and slowly walk – don’t run – away. If you are facing charges for any type of criminal offense, contact a Boston defense lawyer today.

The Most Popular Fifth Amendment Right

The previously-mentioned Miranda warning is part of the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution and your Miranda rights aren’t required to be read to you unless you are in police custody. If  you are asked to come in for questioning and you do so on a voluntary basis, this does not mean you are in custody. But even though this scenario doesn’t require law enforcement to read your Miranda rights aloud to you, you still have the right to remain silent. If, however, you refuse the request to come in for questioning, you may be arrested.

Avoid Idle Conversation

If you’re under arrest, you are officially in police custody. At this point, police will certainly “Mirandize” you (read your rights), at which point you can still choose to remain silent. In fact, we highly recommend that you do continue to remain silent. Do not engage in even friendly conversation with law enforcement before the arrival of your criminal defense attorney. Also, don’t ask for an attorney, rather, tell police that you want to speak with your attorney immediately. Be crystal clear. At this point, law enforcement must stop questioning you and permit you to call legal counsel. If you have been charged with a crime, contact a MA criminal defense lawyer today.

Keep in mind that you do not need to be read your Miranda rights prior to being arrested. For example, if police stop you for a justifiable reason and, during questioning, you admit to having drugs in your possession, they can arrest you. Once you are arrested, police will have to give the Miranda warning prior to any further questioning. To be safe, always politely decline to answer questions without an attorney, even if you are not under arrest. Anything you say can be used against you in court, so staying silent is your safest bet. There are some minor exceptions to this rule; if asked, you must give identifying information such as your name, address, and age.

Plead the Fifth

If you waive your Miranda rights but change your mind at any point during questioning, you can “plead the fifth” and no longer answer any questions until your attorney arrives. Further, juveniles can decline to answer questions until a parent or guardian is present, in addition to the attorney.

Altman & Altman, LLP – Criminal Defense Law Firm Serving All of Massachusetts

If you have been charged with any type of criminal offense, the skilled legal team at Altman & Altman, LLP can help. We have been protecting the rights of individuals charged with crimes for more than 50 years. It is our goal to protect your rights, reputation, and freedom. Don’t let a mistake ruin your life. Contact Altman & Altman, LLP today for a free and confidential consultation about your case.

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