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What You Should Do When Contacted by the Police

Being contacted by police officers by phone or in person can naturally stir emotions. If you find yourself in this situation, try your best to stay calm and sensible. Keep your hands in view, and know that you don’t have to answer police questions or accompany them to a police station as long as you aren’t being arrested.

When you are contacted by the police for a “casual conversation” or to assist with an investigation, inform them that you will stop by the police station after consulting an attorney. If you are being questioned right there and then, it’s crucial to invoke your right to remain silent and ask for an attorney. It would be best if you told the police officer that you are not answering questions until your legal counsel arrives.

You may sense discomfort from the officers after refusing to talk to them, and they might even pressure you into talking. If this happens, calmly assert your right to remain silent and your willingness to cooperate when you have an attorney present with you.

Why Would Law Enforcement Officers Want to Talk to You?

Most of the time, people receive phone calls from the police or have them knock at their door, saying they “just want to talk.” However, this is almost never the case. In reality, there are two reasons why the police would contact you.

One, you are a possible witness of an alleged crime currently under investigation. Two, they have a suspicion that you committed a criminal offense or are somehow involved in one. Either way, the police are clearly investigating a crime that has something to do with you, and you shouldn’t volunteer any information.

Speaking with a criminal defense attorney before you answer questions is in your best interests.

Your Constitutional Rights As a Potential Suspect

Always remember that you have constitutional rights to protect you at every step of your interaction with law enforcement. The most important of these is your right against self-incrimination, as provided for in the Fifth Amendment. This means that you have the right to refuse to say anything that would incriminate you or imply your involvement.

The Fifth Amendment also protects your right to due process of law, which means you are entitled to fair and lawful treatment throughout the legal criminal process, starting with police interviews. The police cannot coerce you to confess or admit to a crime either by force, intimidation, or threats. Any evidence obtained through coercion will be inadmissible.

Moreover, the Fourth Amendment protects you from unlawful searches and seizures. Police officers are only allowed to search or arrest you with probable cause, the absence of which makes the encounter illegal.

What Are Miranda Rights?

Miranda rights are read before arrest or before an interview with a suspect in the form of a warning. Before your arrest, the police officer must read you the Miranda Warning in a clear and direct manner. The Miranda Warning is as follows:

“You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you. Do you understand the rights I have just read to you? With these rights in mind, do you wish to speak to me?”

When invited for questioning as a potential suspect, which the police will not admit at the time, you must be read your Miranda rights and asked to confirm that you have understood your rights.

If your Miranda rights were not read to you, any evidence or information that may be obtained during such questioning is inadmissible in court.

Types of Police Encounters

Depending on the case and how involved the police think you are, you may find yourself in one of these settings after being contacted by the police:

  1. Voluntary interview: The police may invite you for a voluntary interview when an alleged crime is under investigation. Most of the time, these interviews are carried out to confirm a suspicion, rule you out as a suspect, or simply gather information. Keep in mind that while you are free to leave a voluntary interview anytime you want, this can quickly morph into an arrest or at least a detention.

  2. Temporary detention: When the police have reasonable suspicion that you have committed a crime or are withholding information crucial to an ongoing investigation, they can detain you without an arrest. This is also referred to as investigative detention.

  3. Following a lawful arrest: When police officers have probable cause to believe that you have committed a crime or participated in one, they will arrest and book you. Afterward, you will be brought for police questioning as a suspect.

No matter which situation you find yourself in, you must always have your attorney by your side before you answer a police officer’s questions.

What You Should Not Do When The Police Contact You

Here are some things that you should avoid doing at all costs when contacted by the police:

  • Answer questions.

  • Act aggressively or disrespectfully.

  • Commit an offense, such as failing to follow an officer’s orders or lying to the police.

Hirsch Law Group Can Help You

If you were contacted by the police in Waukegan, Lake County, and are looking to lawyer up, our experienced lawyers at Hirsch Law Group are just a phone call away.

Working with a knowledgeable and experienced criminal defense lawyer can make a difference between going home and spending the night in jail. Contact us today, and let’s discuss your case!

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Law Enforcement Officials Lie During Questioning?

Police officers are allowed to lie during interrogations and interviews to obtain information and solicit answers. Officers usually lie about the evidence they have against you, how much they know, and what help they can offer you if you confess.

Does Asking for a Lawyer Mean You Are Guilty?

No, asking for a lawyer does not imply your guilt. If anything, it just means you are fully aware of your constitutional rights.

What to Do If the Police Pulled You Over When You Have Drugs in the Car?

If the police pull you over, it’s important to do as asked by the officer and remain calm. The officer will ask you questions and ask for your license and ID. The police can search your vehicle without a search warrant, but they must have probable cause to do so.

If the officer searches your car and finds the drugs, make sure not to answer any questions and stay courteous. You may feel the need to start justifying the existence of drugs in your car, but you shouldn’t. Don’t say anything that may worsen your case, such as claiming to suffer from drug addiction.

By remaining silent and asking for an attorney immediately, you may be able to avoid a drug conviction.