If there is one takeaway from every police drama we have all scene, it is that we all have the right to remain silent, full stop. Remember this in all police interactions. This does not mean that we can simply walk away from police officers when we are being questions (or in handcuffs). But, it does mean that we do not have to engage. We do not have to make small talk, and most importantly, we do not have to answer a police officer’s questions.
Refusing to answer questions
One cannot be punished for invoking their constitutional right to remain silent. Indeed, before engaging with the police, it is always a good idea to consult with an attorney. After all, we never know what we do not know, and we do no know what the police are looking for. Unfortunately, this can mean that we may inadvertently cause us harm, even if we did not do anything wrong or illegal. Only a judge has the power to order cooperation, but a lawyer should still be consulted.
Does this mean identification is not required?
Generally speaking, when asked for one’s identification by law enforcement or to identify one’s self, it is a good idea to do so. This is because some states have a requirement for one to give their name when stopped by the police. Though, even if one is not in one of these states, when we operate a motor vehicle (motorcycle, car, truck, etc.), we do have a duty to provide identification, including our driver’s license, proof of vehicle registration and car insurance. Though, even in these interactions, once that information is given to the police officer, one need not answer any questions. Indeed, just the act of handing this information over to the police officer is sufficient.
Asking for a lawyer
If one is uncomfortable with engaging with police, but also uncomfortable with not engaging with police, ask for a lawyer. We all have the constitutional right to consult with an attorney, and it is their job to protect us. Luckily, once we ask for a lawyer, the police officer must stop asking questions. And, even if they illegal continue to ask questions, just continue to ask for an attorney.
When one is uncomfortable
Many Annapolis, Maryland, police officers believe that making someone feel uncomfortable is part of their job. They believe that it is a good investigative technique. This is why it is always a good idea to keep an attorney business card in our wallets. Show it to them, and ask to speak with the attorney. Do not forget to get the officer’s name, telephone number (ask for their card) and their agency. This information may help one’s lawyer, should anything improper happen.