September 2, 2020 | Criminal Defense
Being stopped by police can be a frightening experience. Even when you know you have done nothing wrong, you can begin to feel nervous, your hands might start to sweat, and you might even stutter or stumble over your words.
While it is admirable to want to help police do their jobs effectively by answering their questions, you also want to make sure you don’t say anything that could incriminate yourself. Saying too much could lead to serious criminal charges for drug possession, theft, or whatever it is the office suspects you’ve done.
Of course, you do have the right to remain silent and not answer their questions. You can also wait until your lawyer is present before answering any questions an officer might ask you.
There are, however, several questions you can ask police officers to get a better understanding of what is happening in the situation. Here are six of them.
1) Am I Being Detained?
Police have the right to stop you or bring you in for questioning if they have a reasonable suspicion to detain you. Their questioning however needs to be brief and cursory and should be only as intrusive as necessary.
If police answer yes to this question you are not free to leave. In most cases, police will keep you in a particular area while they conduct their investigation.
Once their questioning is complete, you will be free to go unless they determine they have probable cause to arrest you.
2) How Long Will I Be Detained For?
If you have already asked if you are being detained and the answer was yes, you can follow up with this question. Please note that, during the detainment, you should not answer their questions.
It is also a good idea to pay attention to how long they are detaining you. While there are no precise time limits, police cannot detain you for an unreasonable amount of time.
3) Am I Being Arrested?
In order to arrest someone for a crime, police need a higher standard than reasonable suspicion, they need probable cause. This is why remaining silent is so important. Police can often only go from reasonable suspicion to probable cause if you say something that leads them to believe you were somehow involved in criminal activity.
If the answer to this question is yes, you will definitely need to contact a criminal defense attorney and should remain silent until your attorney arrives.
4) What Am I Being Detained or Arrested For?
Another question you can ask is why you are being detained or arrested. Because they cannot detain or arrest you for no reason, hearing why they are detaining or arresting you will help you know what your next questions and steps should be.
5) Am I Free to Go?
Asking this question will not only help remind police that they cannot hold you for an unreasonable amount of time, but will also give you a better understanding of the situation.
If the answer is yes, leave the area immediately. It might also be beneficial to contact a criminal defense attorney to walk them through your interactions with the police. The sooner you do this the better your memory will be and the more accurate your story. Your lawyer will be able to tell if police used improper methods or held you for too long, which could come in handy later on.
6) Do You Have a Warrant?
If police have or are trying to enter or search your car, home, or property, it is also a good idea to ask them if they have a warrant. Outside of several narrow emergency situations or without a warrant, police cannot search your car or enter your home. By asking them if they have a warrant you are asserting your right to privacy and respectfully asking them to move along. If they answer no to this question you can refuse any search they want to conduct.
It is wise to be prepared with these questions before your interactions with police. Law enforcement officers do not have unlimited rights and need to follow a set of well-established procedures. By asking them these questions:
- Am I being detained?
- How long will I be detained?
- Am I being arrested?
- What am I being detained or arrested for?
- Am I free to go?
- Do you have a warrant?
You will put yourself in a much better position to end the interaction quickly and successfully. Remember, it is also crucial that aside from these questions you remain silent and wait for your lawyer to be present before you answer any questions police officers might ask you.
Contact the Cincinnati Criminal Defense Attorneys at Suhre & Associates, LLC For Help Today
Suhre & Associates, LLC – Cincinnati
600 Vine Street, Suite 1004
Cincinnati, OH 45202