The short answer, is no. You do not have to, and should not, speak to the police about a criminal matter without an attorney present.
If the police contact you for questioning, even if you believe that you have nothing to hide, you should immediately contact your Fiffik Law Group, P.C. attorney to discuss your options.
You Have The Right To Remain Silent
We all know the saying, “you have the right to remain silent.” But what does that really mean? When does that right begin? What questions must I answer?
You have the right to remain silent when being questioned by an officer, regardless of whether you are voluntarily speaking with and officer or are in custody. Under the 5th Amendment to the United States Constitution, a person shall not “be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself.” While many think that this means that a court cannot make you testify at your own trial, it extends much further than the courtroom. The protections of the 5th Amendment allow a person to refuse to answer a police officer’s questions related to the investigation of a possible crime. It does not matter whether you are placed in custody, if you are a witness, or if an officer is simply questioning you about a crime. If an officer’s questioning goes beyond asking you to identify yourself, you have the right to ask for an attorney.
Anything You Say Can Be Used Against You in a Court of Law
It may sound cliché, but you should never subject yourself to questioning by law enforcement without first speaking with an attorney because anything you say, can, and will, be used against you. It is the officer’s job to investigate, and they will use any information that can get to build a case. This includes information they receive about any crime, even one unrelated to the crime they are investigating.
Take a moment to think of any police interrogation scene you’ve seen on TV. Even if there’s no dark room with two chairs, a table, and a bright light, being questioned by an officer can be intimidating. Often people will become flustered and may not answer a question in the way they initially intend. What may seem like an innocent question and answer, may in fact be just what the officer needs to solidify a case. Speaking with an attorney before being questioned by an officer will allow you to be more prepared for the questions they may ask and prevent you from inadvertently incriminating yourself.
You Have the Right to Have an Attorney Present
If you are placed in custody and questioned about a crime, you must inform the officers that you want to speak to an attorney. It is not enough to say that you “want to talk to someone” or “should probably talk to a lawyer.” Be clear with the officers that you are requesting an attorney and are exercising your right to remain silent. The officers must stop their questioning and give you the opportunity to contact your lawyer or have your lawyer present before continuing.
Contact Your Fiffik Law Group Attorney
If you or a loved one have been charged with a crime, or asked to speak with police about a criminal matter, call Fiffik Law Group today at 412-391-1014 for a free consultation.