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Protecting your legal rights during a police interrogation

The entertainment industry and mainstream media perpetuate some misconceptions about police interrogations and exercising your rights. Understanding the facts about your rights in interrogation will help you avoid potentially costly mistakes.

There are a few key factors to consider during a police interrogation.

Understand your rights

You have a legal right to remain silent when law enforcement questions you. You have no obligation to incriminate yourself or answer any questions should you choose not to, even in police custody. Simply tell the police you wish to exercise your right to remain silent, then say nothing further.

You also have the right to legal representation during questioning. As soon as you tell police that you want an attorney, they must stop questioning you until legal representation arrives. An attorney protects your rights during any questioning.

Consider your position

Unless you are in police custody, any participation in police questioning is voluntary. If the police interrogate you without actually filing charges, you might be able to leave. This applies to questioning in your home, at a crime scene and even at the police station. Your attorney can help you understand which situations permit you to voluntarily end any questioning.

Handle the situation cautiously

When interrogated by the police, remain calm and keep your composure when responding to any questions or statements. Ask for clarification of unclear questions and avoid guessing or trying to remember something unclear because anything you say becomes evidence in the case.

Police interrogations may feel threatening or intimidating, but understanding your rights will help you approach the process with less anxiety.