Am I Required To Speak To The Police?
A lot of people ask me whether they are required to talk to the police. The answer is: “No.” You are not required to speak with the police. The Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution protects your right to decline speaking with law enforcement. That’s the easy part. From there the answer becomes more complicated. The Fifth Amendment protects your right not to incriminate yourself. The ways that protection works is more complex.
Rights can be waived. Though you have a constitutional right to decline speaking with police, if you talk to them anyway, then anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. The police are not always required to advise you of your Miranda rights. Under that landmark Supreme Court decision, the police are required to advise someone that he has the right to remain silent. However, the law does not require the police to provide such warnings unless someone is in custody. That generally means under arrest, handcuffed, or locked in a room with your interrogator.
If the police invite you to the local station and you voluntarily appear, they are not required to advise you of your Miranda rights. They will question you and your statements can be used as evidence. Before you speak with the police, it’s always a good idea to first talk to an attorney. If you are questioned, you can decline to answer and tell the police you wish to have an attorney present. Once those words are spoken, the police are required to cease their questioning.