You have probably heard this statement in at least one hundred movies: “You have the right to remain silent…” If that is your case, you are most likely aware that you do have the right to keep quiet when a police officer asks you a question. However, you may not be sure if this applies to cases where the police are stopping you to ask a question and you are not really suspected of having committed any crime or violated any law or only in cases of arrest. Let’s have a look.
Are you obligated to answer questions posed by police officers?
As stated above, the right to remain silent does apply to this situation. You may, however, not be free to walk away either because you have just been informed that you have been arrested or because you are in jail. Yet, you should know that there is no punishment associated with the fact that you refuse to answer. To avoid further problems with the authorities, your best bet is to work with an attorney that can guide you as to how to behave and what to say in these situations.
Does the right to remain silent apply to every single situation?
There are two limited exceptions to this right. You must identify yourself when asked to do so, in which case you must provide your name. Additionally, an officer may also ask to see your driver’s license if you are pulled over and you must show it to them.
Can I get in trouble if I do speak to a police officer?
If the subpoena becomes a reality, you will still have the option to have a lawyer by your side before answering any questions.
As familiar you are with the right to remain silent, you have probably also heard that anything you say can and will be used against you. However, if you are hesitating between answering what is being asked to you and lying to a law enforcement agent, please opt for the first option. Lying to anyone that represents the law is never a good idea. If in doubt as to the effect your answers may have on you, ask to wait until you have a lawyer.
How should I react if the law enforcement officer threatens me to get a subpoena if I keep silent?
Keep silent. If the subpoena becomes a reality, you will still have the option to have a lawyer by your side before answering any questions. If you are given a subpoena, please follow its instructions about where and when to report to the court. At all points, keep in mind that what you say may end up being used against you.
What law enforcement agencies might have someone question me?
Besides state and local police officers, you may also be questioned by federal agents from the FBI, the Department o Homeland Security, the Drug Enforcement Administration, members of the Joint Terrorism Task Force, the Naval Criminal Investigative Agency, and several other agencies. At all times, ask to have a lawyer by your side and who is familiar with your case before giving any answers.
Have you been arrested for any reason and need legal representation?
Lawyer Vikas Bajaj can provide you with the legal support you need when you are facing arrest. Contact him today to get an initial free consultation and find out the legal options available to you.