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Important Tips for Dealing with Police Questioning

At some point, you may find yourself being questioned by law enforcement officers, such as local or state police, agents from the FBI or Department of Homeland Security or others. If this happens, it is important to know how best to deal with these questions and to understand your rights and responsibilities.

Keep the following in mind when facing this situation:

  • You do not have to answer: The U.S. Constitution affords you the right to remain silent, even if you are arrested or jailed. You cannot be punished simply for not answering a question. In fact, in many circumstances, it’s a better idea to wait to answer questions until you can consult an attorney. The only exceptions are that you need to provide your name and, during a vehicle stop, your license, registration and proof of insurance.
  • Dealing with threats: There are some cases in which police officers may attempt to bully you into answering, even going so far as to threaten a subpoena. Although they may well ultimately get a subpoena, you are under no obligation to say anything until you are actually presented with it, at which point you should contact an attorney to decide how to proceed.
  • Remain polite: Whether or not you choose to answer an officer or agent’s questions, you should always be as polite as possible in dealing with law enforcement. It will ensure the situation goes smoothly and does not give the officer a reason to press you harder.
  • You can get the officer’s name: You may ask the officer for his or her name and badge number for your own records.

For the legal counsel you need when accused of a serious crime, consult experienced Reading criminal defense lawyer David R. Eshelman.


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