How To Interact With Law Enforcement

Whether you’re under investigation or on the receiving end of a complaint, it is important to know that everything that is said to law enforcement can and will be used against you. The police recite the “Miranda” rights of the accused – “you have a right to remain silent, everything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law; you have the right to have an attorney present before and during questioning.”, but it can be challenging to exercise those rights in the heat of the moment. Interacting with law enforcement can be intimidating, but knowing and understanding your rights will better prepare you for a positive outcome and help your lawyer with your case.

Common Police Interactions

The level of police presence usually depends on location, and of course, because they are individuals, their temperament can vary from one extreme to another. Their preconceived notions based on the way you look, the alleged crime, the alleged victim’s characteristics, and the nature of the interaction itself can be the difference between freedom and incarceration. The unpredictability of the situation tends to cause a lot of anxiety about  police involvement.

Regardless of how a police interaction starts, there are a few basic rules to follow: 

  1. Never provoke or instigate unnecessary negative interactions;
  2. Always exercise your constitutional right to remain silent;
  3. Do not consent to a search without a warrant. 

What To Do If Approached By Police?

The most important thing to do if you are approached by police, whether it is a traffic stop, a completely false allegationi or an arrest, is to stay calm. Remaining calm and composed during any interaction can benefit your circumstances. Using respectful language is not legally required, but it can still be helpful, especially if you disagree with their actions or want to request more information.

For interactions involving criminal matters or investigations, you do not have to speak to the police. If you feel intimidated by the police and are unsure if you are being arrested or detained, you may ask: “Am I free to leave?”. Law enforcement sometimes uses this as a tactic to get individuals to incriminate themselves. For example, if you are in public and police approach you because they find your activity somehow “suspicious,” they may approach you and begin an informal interrogation. Even if you know there was no wrongdoing, the police could be looking for a reason to place you under arrest. Do not make any sudden movements, and make sure your hands are visible at all times. Most importantly, do not engage with their questioning no matter how friendly they initially seem.

Another common example, is if the police are called to a domestic violence complaint. They may be “informally” interviewing you to get “your side of the story.” But if you say there was only an argument or that you pushed back in self-defense, even those statements, if inconsistent with other evidence, may be used against you as evidence that you were lying. Sometimes evidence of alleged lying is argued against you as proof of your guilt.

Regardless of whether you have committed a crime, law enforcement often uses their power to intimidate and pressure individuals into incriminating themselves in some way. If a police interaction ends with an arrest, you need effective and experienced counsel. The team at Burke Brown Attorneys, PLLC is dedicated to fighting against injustice. For a consultation, call (206) 452-4030 or fill out a contact form online.

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Burke Brown Attorneys, PLLC

The first step of our approach here at Burke Brown Attorneys, PLLC? Listening to you explain your legal situation. Our attorneys have nearly 40 years of combined experience in successfully defending people against the most serious accusations.

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