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Your Right to Remain Silent Explained

Posted on : February 22, 2017, By:  Andrew Whitehead
Criminal Defense Lawyer

Any time you are stopped by the police, you have the right to remain silent and not answer any questions that are asked of you beyond providing your identifying information and not resisting if they should decide to arrest you. However, many people attempt to explain their situation, thinking that it will help clear their name. Is this the right move, or should you stay silent during any interaction with police?

You Do Not Have to Answer Questions

Police officers won’t tell you that you don’t have to answer any questions that are asked of you. They want you to answer because your answers will likely help them build a case against you. For example, you may be asked where you came from, what you were doing while there, and where you are going. You may be asked what you were doing on a particular day at a certain time, and police will frame these questions to make you feel like you have to answer them. You don’t. You can simply say “No comment.”

You Do Have to Provide Your Identifying Information

If a police officer asks for you to identify yourself, you do have to provide this. Usually, this can be done by simply handing the officer your ID or license and if you’ve been pulled over, your registration and insurance as well. You cannot decline to identify yourself if a police officer asks you to. You also may not resist arrest, even if you believe the arrest was unlawful.

The Benefit of Remaining Silent

The police are not looking for information in your answers that will exonerate you — they are looking for answers that can be used to trip you up. Many people are shocked to find out later in court that what they told the police officer after being pulled over has been twisted to be used against them to incriminate them. You can never harm yourself by remaining silent and it is usually in your best interest to do so. Remember to always remain polite when declining to answer questions asked by a police officer — there’s no need to be rude and doing so could hurt your case.

At Whitehead Law, we are committed to protecting the rights of our clients under the law. If you’ve been arrested and charged with a crime, don’t hesitate to contact our criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible for a consultation. Call now at (302) 248-2000.