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Can I Refuse to Be Interviewed by Police?

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When we face an arrest by law enforcement, the United States Constitution and other laws afford us certain rights. We know that we have the right to remain silent and to have a defense attorney represent us – but do we have the right to decline an interview by a police officer? If you are facing criminal charges, you may feel like you have to comply with an interview or face consequences, but under some circumstances, you do have the right to refuse an interview.

You Can Refuse Random Street Questioning

A police officer may stop you on the street and ask you to answer a few questions about a crime, whether or not it is a crime the officer is accusing you of. While you do have the right to remain silent based on the Fifth Amendment, the officer will not inform you or read you of the right before he or she performs a formal arrest.

The police also have the right to make random stops on the street without violating your constitutional rights, as long as the officer can justify the stop using specific and articulable facts. However, the officer is not arresting you during a random stop.

You can always ask if the officer is detaining you. If the answer is no, you can stop the conversation and calmly walk away. Make sure to walk away as calmly as possible, as to not raise suspicion and give the officer a reason to detain you.

Refusing Voluntary Requests for Questioning

Another scenario under which a police officer may ask you to answer some questions is if you receive a voluntary request for custody. This is another situation where the Miranda rights warning do not technically apply. You may receive a request to voluntarily visit the police station to answer a few questions.

You have a choice as to whether or not to comply with the request for questioning. If you do comply, the police officers will not read your Miranda rights and you may answer the questions they ask you. You do have the right to refuse or ignore a request for questioning, but the officers may choose to arrest you, depending on the nature of the case.

During an Arrest, You Have the Right to Remain Silent

Once a police officer places you under arrest, he or she must read you your Miranda rights. Under this series of rights, you have the right to remain silent and the right to hire an attorney. You cannot walk away from police officers, but you can refuse to answer any questions they have until your attorney comes to represent you.

It is important to exercise your right to remain silent during an arrest. You do not want to accidentally say anything that the officers can misconstrue as evidence that you committed a crime. Tell the officers clearly that you do not want to answer any questions until you speak to your attorney.

If the officers do not respect your Miranda rights, use the following statements to stop the questioning quickly and clearly. Repeat the statement until the officers stop questioning you.

  • “I refuse to answer any questions until my attorney is present.”
  • “I do not want to talk to you, I want to talk to my attorney.”
  • “I’m invoking my Miranda rights.”
  • “I will not speak to you until I call my attorney.”
  • “I am claiming the right to remain silent.”

Remember, you have the right to refuse an interview by a police officer. If an officer tries to threaten or intimidate you into giving an interview, remember that you have the right to have an attorney present. Do not give in to the officer’s demands until you speak to your lawyer. He or she will help you leave the interview safely and remind the officer of your constitutional and legal rights. If you do not already have a criminal defense attorney, hire one as soon as possible.

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