Do I Need a Criminal Lawyer If Police Contact Me for Questioning?
When speaking with a police officer in the State of Florida, it is important to understand the rights that you have as a citizen. If you are contacted for questioning, it may be anxiety-inducing if you are not sure what steps to take. Police interrogation may seem intimidating, but is it a situation that warrants the presence of a lawyer?
Take a look below at some of the reasons why you might want an attorney present when speaking with the police, as well as tips for handling the situation appropriately and respectfully.
The Three Types of Police Questioning
Before you enter into a conversation with a police officer, it is important to understand the types of questions that could be asked and what your rights are in each situation. The following list details the different types of police questioning that you might encounter.
- Voluntary encounters: The individual being questioned cannot be searched and is free to leave at any time during the conversation.
- Investigative detention: In this circumstance, you are not allowed to leave unless instructed by an officer, and you may be subject to frisking or search.
- Arrests: Suspects in this position may be forced to show identification, involuntarily searched, or taken to jail.
The Miranda warning, also known as Miranda rights, entitles you to speak with an attorney before answering any questions that you feel might incriminate you. Knowing your rights and how to navigate a conversation with a police officer will help you in any of these situations.
Asking the Right Questions
Although the police may be the ones asking you questions, you should still be prepared to ask a couple of your own. Depending on the circumstance, as described above, you may be entitled to leave a conversation with a police officer at any time if you are not considered a suspect. The following questions are important to keep in mind when interacting with the police.
- “Am I free to leave?” Police can utilize intimidation tactics to obtain information, which may include lying, but they are required to answer honestly if you ask them about your ability to leave a voluntary encounter.
- “Am I under arrest?” If you are not free to leave, ask an officer if you are under arrest to better understand your rights.
Timing these questions appropriately is an important part of asking them. It will help to understand when to ask about your rights during a police encounter and when to answer their questions.
Know When to Speak
There will also be times during your conversation with a police officer where you will find that staying quiet is the best option. As mentioned above in the Miranda warning, anyone who is arrested has “the right to remain silent,” because “anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.” Do not provide the police with any kind of additional consent, as this may be used to draw probable cause or reasonable suspicion against you.
As you communicate with the officer during questioning, don’t offer up too much additional information. Many individuals who feel nervous around the police tend to overshare to protect themselves or prove their innocence. The best option is to remain honest and refrain from speaking unless questions are being asked.
How a Criminal Lawyer Can Help
Some circumstances where you speak with the police will be more benign than others. If you are asked on the street by an officer whether you have noticed an increase in car accidents near your residential area, you can answer freely without fear that your answer will get you into trouble.
However, if you find yourself in a situation where you suspect that answering certain questions might put you at risk, make sure you contact a criminal lawyer who can help you understand how to approach the situation. Speaking with the police while your lawyer is present can give you a better sense of security and will reduce the chance of coercion during questioning.
Contact an Experienced Criminal Lawyer in Florida
If you or someone you love is being questioned by the police and you don’t know the next step, you need a trusted lawyer to work with you and ensure that your rights are protected. The experienced team at The Umansky Law Firm has helped thousands of people in Florida as they navigate the justice system.
Work with lawyers who will help you talk to the police without fear of indictment. Call our office or reach out to us online today to find out more information.