Whether you’ve committed a crime or not, it can be intimidating to speak with the police. Hopefully you’ll never need to put these things into use but it is important to know what rights you have when it comes to talking to the police, no matter the circumstances, there are rights you can exercise to protect yourself.

Fifth Amendment

The fifth amendment gives you the right to remain silent. It’s to protect you from stating something that may incriminate you if you go to trial. The best thing you can do when talking to the police is to only speak to ask for a lawyer or a phone call. You’re not required under law to answer questions asked by law enforcement. It’s best to speak to your lawyer before answering questions.

Right to a Lawyer

If you’re under arrest, you have the right to an attorney whether or not you can afford one. When taken in for questioning on a possible crime you may or may not be involved in, you should always ask to call a lawyer before saying anything else. This protects you from accidentally incriminating yourself and allows for you to receive professional assistance.

What Do I Have to Answer?

In some states, you are required to identify yourself if asked to do so by the police. It’s important that you check if that’s a law where you live or not. If you’re pulled over by an officer you are required to provide them with your license and registration but you’re not required to answer any further questions.

Asking to Leave

If you’ve been stopped and questioned on the street, you can ask if you are free to leave and if you are, do so calmly. When you’re under arrest, you won’t be free to leave without bail. If you’ve gone on your own volition to the police station to answer questions, you can also ask if you’re free to go. Having a lawyer present with you can also help to navigate whether or not you can leave.

Do Not Interfere/Obstruct Police

Interference or obstruction of a police investigation can cause you to be arrested. Instead, remain calm and try to stay out of their way.

Fourth Amendment

The Fourth Amendment of the Constitution protects you from unreasonable search and seizure. This means that the police can’t enter your house without your permission. There’s a few limited exceptions to this rule. If the police tell you they came with a warrant, always ask to see it before they enter your house to confirm they do in fact have one.

When it comes to protecting yourself and knowing your rights, make sure you understand the basics. If you only remember one thing, make sure you ask for a lawyer and they can help you navigate everything else.