Top 7 Tips for Talking to the Police
Sometimes talking to a police officer is a friendly chat. Other times you're a suspect in a criminal investigation and it's anything but. Knowing the difference, and what to say and what not to say to cops can mean the difference between going home and going to jail.
So here's some of our best advice for talking to the police, from our archives:
You always have the right to remain silent, and in most cases, that silence can't be used against you. But exercising that right might look different depending on if you're stopped on the street or if you're arrested.
Even if you think the cops are harassing or illegally stopping you, anything you say when an officer stops you on the street can be used against you. Learn how to protect yourself.
Your rights as a driver may differ from those as a pedestrian. And an officer's rights to search your vehicle may be different from searching your person.
If you do decide to talk to the police, there are still some things you should never say. Find out whether it makes sense to consent to a search or tell an officer you only had "a couple beers" before driving. (Hint: NO.)
Just because it's legal, that doesn't make it a good idea. And there's a fine line between free speech and disturbing the peace.
Yes, we get it. "Pigs." Very funny. You might get away with a bacon joke or even flipping off an officer. But interfering with an investigation or using "fighting words" could get you arrested.
Just because you told a cop "I did it," doesn't mean that's the end of the story. The police have to follow certain procedures when obtaining a confession, otherwise it's invalid.
Often, it is best not to say anything to the police until you've talked to a lawyer. If you've been charged with a crime, or even if you're just being questioned regarding a crime, you should contact an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately.
- Find Criminal Defense Lawyers Near You (FindLaw's Lawyer Directory)
- When Police Want to Question You, Can You Say 'No'? (FindLaw Blotter)
- Nat'l Police Week: 10 Tips for Dealing With Cops (FindLaw Blotter)
- Questioned by Police? Know These 3 Rights (FindLaw Blotter)
You Don’t Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer’s Help
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.