Police Questioning After an Arrest

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Most Common Defense and Criminal Law Issues

Do I Have to Answer Questions from the Police?

No. Under the Fifth Amendment of the U.S Constitution, all people are protected from self-incrimination. This means that when a person is arrested or is otherwise in the custody of police and not free to leave, they have the right to remain silent and not answer any questions.

However, there are exceptions to the right to remain silent. These exceptions involve routine traffic stops and questions concerning a person’s identification. If you were pulled over by police, it would be your best interest to cooperate with the police and provide them with all the necessary information regarding your identification and insurance, since this type of information is not considered incriminating evidence.

Do the Police Need to "Read Me My Rights?"

When the police arrest you, they do not have to read you your rights. The rights referred to are your Miranda rights. The police only need to inform you of your Miranda rights by giving you a Miranda warning if they want to question you.

If the police fail to give a Miranda warning before questioning you while you are under arrest or in custody, any statement or evidence gathered during these police interrogations cannot be used against you at the subsequent trial. If the confession or statement leads to additional incriminating evidence, that additional evidence will also be excluded from trial.

What Should I Do If I am Arrested and the Police Question Me?

If you have been arrested, you should ask for an attorney, and then you should inform the police that you wish to remain silent. You can do this by either remaining silent or saying something like:

Your assertion of your right to remain silent must be clear and unambiguous, meaning that the police must know that you are asserting your right.

Can the Police Continue to Question Me?

It is a violation of your Miranda rights for the police to continue to question you after they have informed you of your rights and you have asserted your right to remain silent. Anything you say likely will not be admissible at trial. However, the police can try to elicit statements from you even after you say you want an attorney, so the best advice is to remain silent and wait for an attorney.

Can the Police Force Me to Answer Questions?

No. The police are not allowed to use physical force or psychological coercion in order to get responses from you. Any information or evidence obtained thought the use of either of these is not admissible at trial. Also, use of physical force or psychological coercion is a form of police misconduct.

Can I Answer Questions Then Later Decide to Stop Answering Questions?

Yes. Miranda warnings give the person who is in custody the right to stop answering any questions at any time, even of they previously waived their right to remain silent. Once the suspect asserts the right to remain silent, the police must immediately stop all questioning and cannot continue questioning the suspect regarding any matter.

Do I Need a Lawyer If I Have Been Arrested?

Yes. A criminal defense attorney can inform you of your rights and defenses. An attorney can also help you if you feel that you are the victim of police misconduct.

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Last Modified: 01-14-2015 01:58 PM PST

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