Kristina Bergsten

Please STOP Talking to the Police!

Please, for the love of all that is good in this world, STOP talking to the police.

Just because a police officer asks you questions, does not mean you have to answer them. You do not have to answer police questions. Especially if you are under arrest.

I am sure you have heard the phrase “anything you say can and will be against you in a court of law.” Trust me, anything and everything you say will be used against you in court.

The 5th Amendment of the United States Constitution gives you the opportunity to protect yourself against self-incrimination. Typically, this right is seen exercised at trial. However, it can be exercised any time you have a police encounter.

Often, people think that if they “just explain” the situation to the officer, the officer will understand and let them go. That is not how it works! Police Officers want to close the case as quickly as possible and if you provide statements to them that link you to scene or the situation, consider yourself guilty as charged. There is no “explaining away” a situation whenever you are being questioned by the police.

If you find yourself being questioned by the police, the first rule is to always be polite. There is nothing gained by being rude. If a police officer asks you anything besides identifying information (such as your name and date of birth), your first response to any question should be: “Am I under arrest, officer?”

If the officer says that you are not under arrest, then the next thing you should say is: “Am I free to leave?” The officer may or may not issue you a citation or a summons at this time, but the important thing is that you protected yourself against self-incrimination and now you can find legal representation to help you navigate through the court process.

If you give a statement, the officer will write it down and it will be used against you in court. Often, statements given to the police will tie the hands of any attorney and decreases your chances of being successful at trial, later.

If the police officer advises you that you are not under arrest, but are not free to leave, remain firm in your silence and do not answer any questions because this particular situation may be considered a “custodial interrogation”. If an officer takes your statements during a custodial interrogation without advising you of your rights (i.e., your Miranda Rights), then any statements you do make may be thrown out later under the “fruit of the poisonous tree” doctrine. But, there is no guarantee that statements made to a police officer in this situation will be thrown out by a judge later, so it is best not to speak at all.

Many times, police officers will threaten to put you under arrest and hold you in jail if you refuse to talk to them. Unfortunately, this type of pressure works and many people talk to the officer in the hopes that they can “explain” the situation and the officer will let you go. In this situation, the officer will let you go, but now he has your statement and that statement will be used against you to the fullest extent possible in court.

Encounters with the police are intimidating and we are raised from a young age to view the police as the people we turn to when we need help. However, when you are being questioned by a police officer in relation to a crime, the police officer is not your friend and is not there to help you. So it is best to stay strong, remain firm in your silence, and hire a lawyer as soon as you can to make sure your rights are not violated and you do not incriminate yourself.

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