“What should I say if an officer arrests me?”
Advice on how to respond to a situation involving the police.
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When you are arrested, you have the right to remain silent and you should exercise that right. Police may stop and question or even frisk you without ever arresting you. If it is unclear whether you are under arrest, you can always ask “am I under arrest?” If you are under arrest, it’s ok to give your name and address, but otherwise, the only thing you should say to the police is “I choose to remain silent” and “I want to speak with my lawyer.” Or, “I am not speaking to anyone until I see my lawyer.” It does not matter if you do not have a lawyer on retainer at that time. When you utter these words, the police are required by the Constitution to stop asking you questions until you have been given a lawyer or until you initiate conversation with them. They may keep asking you questions, but they are not supposed to. In theory, they can’t use anything you say in response to questions after you have invoked your right to remain silent, however, even with this protection, it is safer for you to remain silent until you have spoken with a lawyer.
It might seem impolite or even scary to assert this right against the police. If you feel like you are in physical danger, do what you need to do to stay safe. However, nothing good can come of giving more information to the police without an attorney’s advice. Anything that you say at that time can, and will, be held against you in court. If they are asking you questions or making conversation, they are likely fishing for something they can use against you. Saying nothing after you are arrested, on the other hand, cannot be used as evidence against you.