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Always watch what you say to the police

On behalf of Starbranch Law on Monday, June 25, 2018.

Any time that you speak to police, whether they stop you while driving or simply ask you a question on the street, you must take great care to guard what you say. Anything you say to an officer of the law may come back to haunt you later in a court of law. This is true even if you didn’t think the officer was gathering information at the time.

During each interaction with a police officer, he or she is gathering evidence. Even in casual conversation, the things you say to police officers can become evidence against you. If an officer pulls you over or questions you, he or she is actively building a case against you throughout the entire interaction.

With this in mind, it is wise to always watch what you say to and around police. If you get stopped and questioned by police, it is wise to know your rights and protect them with silence or minimal communication. This allows you to still be compliant with the officer and remain respectful without offering any evidence of wrongdoing.

What do you have to say to police?

In general, you are only required to give police your name and provide them with some official form of identification if they ask.

Other than this information, you may remain silent or insist on speaking with an attorney before answering any further questions. You must use your best judgment when it comes to what you reveal during any interactions.

Always keep in mind that a police officer is not asking questions to prove your innocence, but rather to determine your guilt. The more information that you give police about yourself and your activities, the more information the police have to use against you.

Remain respectful during the interaction

Whether a police officer initiates an interaction with you calmly or aggressively, it is wise to keep calm and avoid amplifying a confrontation. In some instances, the questions may seem accusatory and intended to provoke you into acting out.

To keep your rights and freedoms secure, avoid name-calling and profanity. While these responses may not be illegal, they do not help your case and may escalate the situation unnecessarily. If an officer treats you unfairly or does not operate within departmental protocols, do what you can to document the violation so that you may use it as a part of your legal defense later.

When in doubt, it is usually wise to say very little at all. The less you say, the less the prosecution can use against you, and the more likely you are to beat any charges that you receive.

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Harry N. Starbranch
Harry Starbranch
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  • Portsmouth Office
    Nathaniel Walker House
    171 Middle Street
    Portsmouth, New Hampshire 03801
    Phone: 603-436-5566
    Fax: 603-373-8421