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When NOT to talk to the Police

In any encounter with the police, people often wonder, “Should I speak with the police?” Sometimes the circumstances will make it clear that it’s okay. You might be the victim of a crime, or you might be simply a witness. You saw a small accident on the street, the police officer wants to interview you to find out what you saw. In other cases, it might not be so clear. You might be a subject or even a suspect in their investigation, and they might not make that clear to you. First, let’s clear up a couple of myths about speaking with the police. People often think that the police have to read you your rights any time you speak with them. But that’s not true. The police only have to read your rights to you if in fact you are in their actual physical custody, meaning you’ve either been formally arrested or the circumstances make it clear that you’re not able to leave voluntarily.

The second myth that people often have is that you are required to speak to the police if they come to talk to you. That’s not true either. You do not have to speak to the police under any circumstances. The police may try to persuade you to talk to them. “Just tell us your side of the story.” “If you don’t talk to us, we might have to arrest you.” They might try to trick you. They might even lie to you. And the courts have said all those techniques are okay, so you must be very, very careful when speaking to the police. And if you think in any way you are suspected by the police of a crime, you should definitely speak to a lawyer before deciding whether to talk to the police. The lawyer can do a little investigation, talk to you, and decide whether you should talk to the police and if you do, that that lawyer could be there to make sure that your rights and interests are protected.

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