The police perform a valuable and necessary function for society. They keep you and your community safe and apprehend criminals.
However, even knowing this, suddenly finding officers on your doorstep or receiving a call from them can be a nerve-wracking experience. It is not uncommon for the police to aggressively pursue potential suspects and witnesses as if they are guilty of something even when they are not. If you find yourself unexpectedly having to go down to the police station or participate in an interview with them, you need to remember your rights.
You can choose not to answer their questions
While it is generally a good idea to cooperate with police, if you are under suspicion, silence may be the wisest option. In an interrogation, even if the police say they “just want to talk,” anything you say can fall into the category of “proof” of wrongdoing. Officers, especially if they already believe you to be guilty, may twist even the most innocuous statements.
You can ask to see the warrant
If officers want to search your home, you can ask if they have a warrant. If they do not have one or a reason that counts as a warrantless exception, you can refuse to allow them in.
You can ask to leave
Just because you are at the station, does not always mean you have to stay. If you are there and you are not under arrest, you can ask if you are free to leave. If the answer is “yes,” you can leave and seek legal aid. If you are unable to leave, you still have the right to counsel.
While police officers uphold the law, they are not immune from making mistakes or falsely accusing individuals. Exercising your rights can help you avoid giving them the ammunition to do so to you.