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The police have a duty to investigate crime. However, individual are not legally required to participate in police questioning. A person can simply say "no", though police may be able to continue questioning until an affirmative request for a lawyer is made. A person not only has the right to remain silent, but can also request the presence of their lawyer during any questioning, even if they are not under arrest or a suspect.
Generally, the only questions and information a person must answer involve identifying themselves to law enforcement, or providing documents during a traffic stop. Beyond that, the Fifth Amendment provides the basis for a person to refuse to answer any further questions. However, when it comes to testifying in court, the Fifth Amendment has some limits. Additionally, individuals should be careful not to confuse questions with commands or orders, which must usually be followed.
If law enforcement asks you to come to the station to talk or answer questions, you can refuse. However, if investigators believe you are a suspect, or have relevant information, you may get a personal visit from investigators at your home or work, or worse, find yourself under arrest.
If you are asked to come down to the station, you should consider offering to schedule an appointment after you have consulted with an attorney. You can also retain an attorney to accompany you, who may be able to provide you with insight as to the nature of the investigation and whether you have anything to worry about. Trying to figure this out on your own can be a large risk.
Asking police if you are a suspect to a crime is a dangerous game. Generally, law enforcement officers are under no obligation to tell you the truth during an interrogation, and can even lie to trick you into admitting guilt. Also, police may not know the extent of the criminal activity, and you may not even be aware that you were involved. For example, if you purchased used goods from a neighbor, you could end up being a suspect in an investigation regarding stolen property.
Individuals are often concerned that talking to police can lead to negative consequences. In addition to the fear of arrest, witness retaliation and intimidation can be real concern.
Having an experienced criminal defense attorney with you for voluntary questioning by the police can provide an individual with peace of mind, as well as legal protection, in the event that you end up being the subject of the investigation.
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.