If officers suspect you may have committed a crime, they likely want to get your side of the story. Still, talking to investigators is not always a good idea. As the mandatory warning from Miranda v. Arizona indicates, prosecutors may use anything you say against you.
The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects you from self-incrimination. That is, you generally do not have to provide evidence against yourself. Nevertheless, staying silent during police questioning can be exceedingly difficult, as officers receive extensive training on how to obtain information from criminal suspects.
Practice invoking your legal rights
If you believe officers may question you, you probably want to practice invoking your legal rights. To be sure there is no ambiguity, you should be as clear as possible. Telling officers, “I am exercising my right to remain silent,” is the most effective way to stop police questioning.
If you simply stay silent, officers may continue to try to elicit information from you until you either crack or invoke your right to remain silent. If you haven’t been read your Miranda rights, your case may be dismissible on the grounds that the police or detectives illegally obtained evidence.
Think about requesting a lawyer
In addition to having a fundamental right to remain silent, you have a right to have a lawyer present during police questioning. Asking for an attorney has the same effect as invoking your right to remain quiet.
That is, if you ask for a lawyer, officers should stop the interrogation until you have had an opportunity to talk with an attorney. Because officers know to end questioning when individual’s request legal counsel, doing so may be an easy way to avoid incriminating yourself.