Police are trained to gather information that can be used to charge you with crimes. Crimes that you may not even know that you committed or even crimes that you did not commit. When you have an encounter with a police officer, you should respectfully decline to make a statement or answer questions outside of the basic inquiries of revealing your correct name and address. Most police interrogations do not involve a poorly lit room and cigarettes. Most police interrogations begin as basic, seemingly friendly conversations. Thirty percent of the people exonerated through DNA evidence, were convicted because they falsely confessed to a crime they did not commit.
Make no statement to the police under any circumstances. It cannot help you. You cannot talk your way out of getting arrested. Statements made to the police will be used against you but they cannot be used to help you. Exculpatory statements (statements that tend to prove that you are innocent) made by you are hearsay and cannot be used in court to prove your innocence. Remember, statements CAN and WILL be used against you!
Even if you did not commit a crime and even if you are being truthful, one mistake in your story, getting one fact wrong, can be used to prove that your entire story was a lie. You cannot possibly remember everything. Exercise your hard fought for right to not incriminate yourself, as guaranteed by the 5th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
Many people believe that they are always entitled to have their rights read to them. This is simply not true. A police officer is only required to read you your rights before questioning you, after you have already been taken into custody. If you are unsure of a situation, ask the police officer if you are free to go. If you are not free to go, you are in custody. However, any statement you make, either while in custody or if you are free to go, will be used against you.
Be calm during traffic stops.
Once you realize you are being told to pull over, pull over safely and as soon as you can. Keep your hands on the steering wheel at all times and do not make any sudden movements. Remember, any questions from the officer other than your name and address are investigatory. Invoke your right to remain silent. Let the officer know that you need to reach into the glove box or for your wallet before you reach. Do not be a jerk, be polite and remain respectful. Do not get out of your vehicle unless the officer requests that you get out of your vehicle.
Invoke your rights.
If a police officer is asking you any questions other than your name and address, it is safest to respectfully decline to answer the questions until you can speak to an attorney. Politely respond to the officer, “I am going to remain silent. I do not wish to make any statement. I want to see an attorney.” The officer may keep asking you questions and ignore your requests to remain silent. However, do not give in. Remain respectful and invoke your rights each time you are questioned.
Even if the officer is being disrespectful to you, always remain respectful to the officer. The officer could be taunting you into doing something unlawful or saying something that may incriminate you. Do not run from the police. Do not threaten the officer. There is credibility in remaining calm and respectful.
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