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What Are Your Rights When Questioned and Stopped By Police?

Your rights and responsibilities…

If a police officer approaches me and asks me questions?

Imagine that you are walking through the park when you are approached by a police officer and they begin asking questions.

Police officers may approach you and ask you questions.  Whether you answer them or not may depend on a number of factors to consider.  You do have a right to remain silent.  However, be aware that lying to law enforcement officers may result in charges being filed against you.

If you have committed a criminal offense – or if you are not certain whether you have committed a criminal offense, then it is best to remain silent.

If a police officer stops me and asks me questions?

Now imagine that you are walking through the park and a police officer approaches and says: “Stop.  I need to ask you some questions.”  A person is “stopped” or “detained” when a law enforcement officer uses either force or a show of authority to make a reasonable person believe that he or she is not free to leave.

If you are stopped or detained, you have the right to refuse to answer any questions for any reason.  You can invoke your right to silence by saying any of the following:

    1.  “I refuse to answer any questions.”
    2. “I want to speak to a lawyer.”
    3. “I wish to remain silent.”

If you do not clearly invoke your right to silence you may be subject to further questioning by the police.  It is important to note, however, that must give your name, address and date of birth to an officer upon request.  Your failure to do so may result in being charged with a 4th degree misdemeanor and subject to arrest.

Even if you believe that the police officer has no grounds to stop and question you, do not argue with or resist the police officer.

If you are stopped by the police, they may ask you for consent to search you, your belongings or your car.  You can and should refuse such a search.  However, a police officer can conduct a limited search (such as a “patdown”) during a stop to search for weapons.

Do not argue with the police.  You cannot talk your way out of the situation of being investigated, arrested or prosecuted.  Even if you believe that you have done nothing wrong telling the police your side without a lawyer present is a bad idea.

If you have been stopped by police or if a detective wants to talk with you, don’t do it alone.  Contact Blosser Law Office for a confidential consultation.