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Written by Attorney Seth Morris


When the police want to ask you questions, you may be left feeling unsure about what to do next. You may want to cooperate and help the police in their investigation. However, it’s vital to know their focus could turn to you at any point.

What Are Your Rights When Being Questioned By Police?

Just because police want to question you does not mean you are not without rights. Every person questioned by police still has basic citizens’ rights protected by the U.S. Constitution. Under the law, you have no legal obligation to answer police questions.

Your Right to Remain Silent

You have the right to remain silent, particularly in cases where the answer could result in self-incrimination. You must say out loud that you want to remain silent. When being questioned by police, you are under no obligation to tell them what you are doing, where you are going, or where you live.

Your Right to Privacy

You also have the right to privacy. You are under no obligation to give your consent for police to search you, your vehicle, or your belongings. Although law enforcement can pat you down to search for weapons, if they do not have your consent or a warrant for a search of yourself or your property, any evidence obtained during that search should be considered inadmissible.

Your Right to An Attorney

Remember that you have the right to an attorney. It may be in your best interest to have an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side before you go into any police interrogation or interviews. You do not want to risk saying something that could later be used against you in a court of law.

What Should You Do if Police Are Questioning You?

If police are questioning you, you may have many concerns regarding how to handle it.

Exercise Your Right to Remain Silent

First and foremost, you should provide police with your name and little else. Be sure to exercise your right to remain silent and refuse to speak with them until your attorney is present.

Ask to Leave

If you become uncomfortable while police are questioning you, ask them if you are free to leave. If they say yes, do so and immediately contact your criminal defense lawyer. If police say no, be sure to ask them why they are stopping you from leaving and if you are under arrest.

Don’t Consent to a Search

You should also let police know you are not giving your consent to any search of yourself, your property, or your belongings. If police want to conduct a lawful search and have the evidence needed to convince a judge that a warrant is appropriate, they will obtain one.

What Shouldn’t You Do if Police Are Questioning You?

Making a mistake during police questioning could result in an arrest or criminal charges. Here are some of the top things to avoid if police are questioning you:

  • Do not provide them with any personal information beyond your name
  • Do not attempt to offer an explanation
  • Do not disrespect law-enforcement officers
  • Do not lie
  • Do not forget you have the right to remain silent
  • Do not give your consent to a search
  • Do not run from police or resist arrest

Are You Required to Answer Police Questioning?

There are limited instances in which you can be required to answer police questions. The first is when you are stopped by police and asked to identify yourself. Under the law, you must provide them with your most basic identifying information and name. Do not lie.

You may also be required to answer police questioning if you are pulled over for a traffic violation. Police can demand you show them your driver’s license, proof of insurance, and vehicle registration upon your stop. However, you do not have to answer any other questions or provide them with additional information.

Can Police Threaten You to Answer Questions?

Police have a long history of using lies, intimidation, and threats to get people to answer their questions when they have been stopped or are the subject of a police investigation. One of the most common types of police threats include the use of subpoenas.

If police threaten to get a subpoena, this is often a ploy. If police had the evidence they needed for a subpoena or a warrant, they would already have one.

You should refuse to answer any of their questions until your attorney is present. If police already have a subpoena, you must follow the directions included. However, if the questioning could lead to self-incrimination, you are well within your rights to refuse to answer and assert your right to remain silent.

Contact a Criminal Defense Attorney for Help Today

It is imperative that you not answer police questions without an experienced legal defender on your side. Do not put your freedom and future at risk. Contact a respected California criminal defense lawyer at Morris Law when police want to question you in a criminal case.

Schedule your free confidential case assessment as soon as today when you complete our secured contact form or call our office to get started on your case.