YOU DO NOT HAVE TO TALK TO THE POLICE, FBI, DA OR ANY OTHER LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENT OR INVESTIGATOR.
Their job is to Collect or Create Information to arrest you and help prosecute you. They’re not trying to win justice or help you.
Remember the MAGIC WORDS : “I choose to remain silent. I want to see a lawyer.” Practice saying it. Unfortunately, saying different words that mean the same thing may not be as legally protective.
“Interrogation” does not necessarily sound like questioning. It sounds more like conversation. They will pull out every trick to intimidate you or to be friendly enough to get you chatting. DON’T GET SUCKED INTO SEEMINGLY INNOCENT CONVERSATION WITH COPS, AGENTS, INVESTIGATORS, or even MEDIA. Even if the words you WOULD say are truth; Anything you say can and probably WILL be twisted, perverted, and used against you or others.
What should I do if approached by police?
Exercise your RIGHT TO REMAIN SILENT.
If you are stopped by police, ask them why. Most important, before you get tricked into talking, ask them:
“Am I being detained or am I free to go?”
If you are free to go (in other words, if they do not state that you are detained or arrested), you may walk away. You can tell them that you do not wish to speak to them and that you are going now. Then do so. If you are being detained, you still DON’T HAVE TO ANSWER ANY QUESTIONS.
If the cops say you’re ‘detained’, you can give your name & address (if you have one). Then say the MAGIC WORDS!
Other than providing your name and address to a cop who is detaining you, you are not legally obligated to talk to ANYONE: on the street, at your home or office, if you’ve been arrested, or even if you’re in jail. Don’t be intimidated by what the cops say!! Only a judge has the legal authority to order you to answer questions.
THE RIGHT TO REMAIN SILENT 5th Amendment, Constitution:
Every person has the right to remain silent in the face of questions posed by any police officer or government agent.
The police are allowed to (and do) lie to you. Although agents/investigators/cops can be nice and pretend to be on your side, they aren’t. Trying to answer their questions, or trying to convey to them “the facts” can be very dangerous. You can never tell how a seemingly harmless bit of information that you give them might be used and misconstrued to hurt you or someone else
You can ALWAYS say the magic words, including times when you’re arrested, and you can say them as many times as you want. If you slip up and speak after you’ve said the magic words, you can say them again, as often as necessary. Then don’t say anything else.
What if I don’t have a lawyer?
Tell them you want your lawyer present anyway. You do not have to already have one. Cops should stop trying to question you once you say you want your lawyer present.
Can I get in trouble for not talking? Does that make me suspect?
NO! Saying, “I chose to remain silent. I want to see a lawyer.” is NOT reason for arrest or detainment.
Cops and other law enforcement agents are very skilled at getting information from people. Many people are afraid that if they refuse to cooperate, it will appear as if they have something to hide. Don’t be fooled. Say the magic words and BE QUIET!
What if I am on Probation/Parole?
You still have the same rights to remain silent and to have an attorney present!
(You probably gave up the right to be free from searches for the duration of your probation/parole. But, you still should not verbally consent to a search.)
What if the cops want to search me or my stuff?
If cops are detaining you (and you should ask if you’re detained), then they may pat you down for weapons. But, they are not allowed to look through your pockets or your things. If the cops want to search you, you should tell them (and any witness), “I do not consent to a search”. It may not stop the search but it may stop them from using things they find against you or others. You can say “I do not consent to a search” even if they say something like/ “You don’t mind if I look in here, right?” or “Let’s see what you have in here.“
Saying “I do not consent to any search” is NOT reason/ or probable cause for a search.
COPS LIE. It may feel weird at first to say things like, “I chose to remain silent. I want a lawyer present” or “Am I being detained or am I free to go?”, but it’s amazing how powerfully those words work and prevent your words from being twisted and used in a corrupt way.
If you witness police brutality or some other crime, find a way to write or record your story. Put it in a safe place. That’s the best way to keep yourself & others safe. CopWatch will help you type a statement & keep it secure ‘til you want to release it for a good use.