Even if you’re not doing anything wrong, it can be intimidating to talk and interact with a police officer, and when police need to lean on this, they will when talking with citizens. This is why it’s so important to know your rights and how to best handle an interaction with an officer. Below, we talk about your rights and how to put yourself in the best position if you are being interviewed by a police officer.
Talking With Police
There’s a delicate balance in talking with police, because if you are the focus of their investigation, anything you say can and will be used against you during court. This is why it’s so important to know your rights and avoid incriminating yourself. The following tips are for when you are the focus of an investigation. If police are simply getting information about something you witnessed, be as forthcoming as possible. But if you’re suspected of speeding or stealing, here’s what you should do:
Be Polite – Believe it or not, many police officers want to give you the benefit of the doubt. If you’re polite during your interaction, that can be the difference between getting a ticket and getting a warning.
Answer Their Basic Questions – You should answer any basic questions police ask you, like who you are or where you’re going, but avoid answering questions that could incriminate yourself, like if you know how fast you were going or how many drinks you had. You also need to provide them with your driver’s license and proof of insurance if asked to provide it.
Respectfully Remain Silent – For specific questions about the incident, you are within your rights to tell the officer that you’d be happy to answer questions after speaking with your lawyer, but for now you’re choosing to express your fifth amendment rights. Or you can simply remain silent.
Searching A Vehicle – Unless they have a search warrant, the only way in which an officer can legally search your vehicle is with your consent or by placing you under arrest. Do not fall for the line “If you have nothing to hide, them why not just let us search your car?” If police really think you’re hiding something, then they should be able to follow due process and get a warrant. You do not have to consent.
Breathalyzer – It’s also important to note that you do not need to submit to a breathalzyer if you’re pulled over. Refusing to submit to a breath test is a separate crime itself, but sometimes it’s better to go this route. Talking with your attorney prior to chemical testing will help give you clarity as to what’s in your best interest.
Recording – In Minnesota, you are within your rights to record your interaction with police. They may harass you for doing so, but you can’t be arrested for filming them. You can be charged with obstruction of justice if the process of your recording interferes with their ability to perform their duties, so as long as you film respectfully, you’re in the clear.
Hopefully this gives you a clearer idea of your rights when talking with police. If you’re the subject of an investigation, ask for a moment to contact a criminal defense lawyer for advice and reach out to the experienced legal team at Appelman Law Firm.