Law Office of Kimberly N. Shanklin, PLLC.
Serving Denton County Since 2002

Talking to the Police

What to say to Law Enforcement

Talking to the Police

This entire article can be summed up with one sentence regarding talking to the police:

Do not talk to the police, period.

In the event that you find yourself in an encounter with law enforcement, the sad truth is that nothing you say will help you. Many people think that they can lie their way out of dealings with the police, but in 99.99% of circumstances this will not work. In fact, anything that you say will almost always end up hurting you later on. If you are in an interaction with the police, your best course of action is to calmly state to the officer, “I will not be answering any questions without an attorney present”. Legally, police are not allowed to interrogate or question an individual who has requested legal counsel. Thanks to the 1966 case of Miranda V. Arizona, police are required to inform individuals who are under arrest of their rights (dubbed Miranda Rights thanks to the landmark case).

You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you. Do you understand the rights I have just read to you? With these rights in mind, do you wish to speak to me?
— Standard Miranda Rights Language

The rights communicated to individuals under Miranda are simply the rights right to remain silent under the Fifth Amendment, and the right to counsel under the Sixth Amendment. “The right of a person to remain silent unless he chooses to speak in the unfettered exercise of his own will, and to suffer no penalty . . . for such silence. -- Schmerber v. Cal., 384 U.S. 757, 764-1514 (U.S. 1966)

Once your Miranda Rights have been read to you, anything that you say to the police is admissible in a court of law (barring that it was the result of coercion). In order to properly protect yourself, the best course of action is to simply not say anything to the police and to let your attorney handle the fallout.

Miranda Rights, however, are only read to an individual when they are placed under arrest. Law enforcement officials are not required to actively advise all individuals of their Miranda Rights in every encounter they have. However, just because the police have not advised you of your rights does not mean that you do not have them. At any time during your interactions with law enforcement you have the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney. If a police officer is questioning you, but has not arrested you, it is up to you to assert your rights and end the questioning. The protections awarded by the Fifth Amendment are not self-executing; The individual in question must assert their rights unequivocally to qualify for the protection.