If You Are a Suspect
Do Not Compromise Your Own Defense
If you are being investigated, questioned, or otherwise suspected of criminal activity, there are many things you can do and many things you should not do to help yourself. First, contact an experienced attorney who can advise you of your rights as well as advise you on how to proceed.
Respect the Police, But Know Your Rights
Do behave politely and respectfully when dealing with police officers. Behaving in an aggressive or belligerent manner during an encounter with a police officer will only result in more criminal charges and will negatively impact your case.
Do provide the police with your correct name and identification. If you lie about who you are, that is a crime.
Do Not Consent to Search
Do not be fooled by an aggressive request to search. For instance, “I am going to look in your purse, ok?” This is still a request, and it is a request that should be declined. Also:
- Do not consent to a search of your person when a police officer asks for permission to search.
- Do not consent to a search of your vehicle when a police officer asks for permission to search.
- Do not consent to a search of your residence when a police officer asks for permission to search.
In short, do not consent to a search of anything. Do always respectfully and verbally decline a police officer’s request to search.
Do not be intimidated by a threat to get a warrant or bring a police dog to the scene. The officers may follow through on this threat, but they may not have sufficient probable cause to follow-through with the threat. Do continue to respectfully decline any requests to search.
Interfering With a Search
Do not attempt to actively stop a police officer from searching your person or property. Engaging in a physical altercation with a police officer is dangerous and should be avoided at all costs. In addition, physically interfering with the police officer will result in additional criminal charges and harsher punishment.
There are times when an officer does not need your permission to search. If a police officer persists in a search despite your verbal statement denying permission, your only option is to allow them to search and contact an attorney.
What You Should and Should Not Say To Police
Do not say anything else to the police besides your correct identification. After providing your accurate identifiers, do consistently exercise your right to counsel by requesting to speak to an attorney in response to every question asked by the police.
Do not think you can talk your way out of a situation with the police. You are only hurting yourself by talking with the police when you are being questioned.
Do realize that everything you are saying is potential evidence. Do realize that every word you say besides your accurate identifiers and requesting to speak to an attorney is giving the police evidence against yourself.
Do not be tricked into re-engaging the police with later conversation. Once the officer’s questioning has ceased, the officer may still use anything you say at a later time.
Do Not Discuss Your Case With Anyone but Your Attorney
Do not talk about the facts of your case with anyone other than your attorney. By discussing the facts of your case with others, you are only creating additional potential witnesses against yourself.