No one enjoys seeing flashing lights in the rearview mirror. With their badges, guns and handcuffs, police officers can be quite intimidating. If you have committed a crime, though, interacting with law enforcement personnel can be downright frightening.
As you may know, the U.S. Constitution grants you the right not to incriminate yourself. Fundamental in this right is your prerogative to remain silent during police questioning. Nevertheless, because officers receive training on how to elicit information from suspects, exercising your right to stay quiet can be challenging. Here are three ways to tell police officers you wish to remain silent.
1. Simply say nothing
If you open your mouth, you may unintentionally reveal information prosecutors can use against you to secure a conviction in court. As such, perhaps the best way to exercise your legal right to remain silent is to simply to say nothing at all. Eventually, officers are apt to realize you do not wish to cooperate with their investigation.
2. Provide the name and contact information of an attorney
The Bill of Rights does not only afford you the right to remain silent. You also have the right to legal counsel. If you give officers the name and contact information of an attorney, they should interpret your communication as an assertion of both rights. Even if you do not have the name of a lawyer handy, you can tell officers you do not want to cooperate until you have found legal counsel.
3. Use specific language
Finally, you can exercise your right not to incriminate yourself by using specific language. Telling officers, “I wish to remain silent,” should cut off questioning. If you think an arrest is imminent, you may choose to write this language onto a business card and carry it with you. Upon your arrest, hand the card to officers.
While exercising your right to remain silent can be difficult, it is often an effective way to limit criminal exposure. By understanding how to assert your constitutional rights, you better position yourself to interact with law enforcement personnel in a productive way.