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What not to say to a police officer

On Behalf of | Jan 1, 2020 | Criminal Defense |

Anything that you say to a police officer who stops you on a California road may be used against you in the future. That is why watching what you say is crucial. Remember that you have a constitutional right against self-incrimination. You do not have to admit anything and you should not try to reason with an officer to try to get out of a situation. You might end up making things worse. 

According to Reader’s Digest, you should be polite to an officer. Showing offense will get you nowhere, and an officer may interpret hostile words as a possible indicator that you have committed a crime. Some officers may even take hostile words as an incitement to start a fight. Do not give an officer an opening if no opening exists. Let the officer lead off the conversation. 

You should also say nothing that sounds like a confession. Some people, under pressure, will confess to a crime even if they have done nothing wrong. But sometimes individuals might say something that admits to wrongdoing but tries to put a spin on it, like claiming they committed a crime in ignorance, or they only had one drink. Statements like these will still come off as admissions of guilt. 

There are other ways to get into trouble while talking with police. Sometimes a person will toss off a joke to an officer to lighten the mood, but odds are the officer is not in a joking mood and may interpret a joke offensively. And if you lie to the police, you could end up in major legal peril. Police officers may lie without consequence, but if you lie to an officer, you could be charged with obstruction of justice. 

FindLaw points out that when an officer asks for identification, you generally should provide it. This is one of the few things you can and should tell an officer. However, once the police arrest you and read you your Miranda rights, you do not have to say anything beyond requesting that you have an attorney present to assist you. Information you do provide after a Miranda warning can be used against you in court.