When Do You Have a Right to Refuse Police Questioning?

Police Questioning

If you are out in public minding your own business and are approached by the police, you might think that you’re obligated to answer their questions. Sometimes, police question individuals in an effort to better understand a situation, locate a person of interest, or to help solve a crime. Most of the time, police officers are simply doing their jobs, but it is important for those who are approached by the police to remember something very important. Simply because a police officer wishes to speak with you does not mean that you are under any obligation to engage in conversation with him or her. However, if you are stopped while driving in Michigan, you have to present the officer with your driver’s license, proof of insurance, and your vehicle’s registration, but you do not have to answer questions from the police without a criminal defense attorney present, if you choose.

If you are stopped and questioned by the police on the street, or in another public place, you can ask the officer whether you are being arrested. If you are not under arrest, you are free to leave at any time, although you might not want to run away because you might then be considered a suspect.  However, officers are allowed to detain individuals for short periods of time while conducting an investigation, and for officer’s safety.

For matters of little importance, it’s usually perfectly acceptable to answer questions from the police, but at times, police might be questioning you in an effort to determine whether you are a suspect of a certain crime. In these cases, you might wish to invoke your right to remain silent, or simply walk away if you are not detained. If you are not engaging in unlawful behavior and the police do not have probable cause that suggests you are, you have every right to refuse any type of question.  It is important to remember that you have a right to remain silent.  You do not have a right to lie to police officers.  Lying to police officers is a crime that can lead to prosecution, and it also will be used against you if you are prosecuted for any offense.

It is important to note that the reading of Miranda rights only apply to custodial interrogations.  Under case law, police are not obligated to read Miranda warnings every time they ask questions.  While a investigation is occurring, sometimes an individual is not considered to be in custody.  Whether or not someone is in custody depends upon the facts and circumstances of the case.  When a police officer or detective tells an individual that they are not in custody and can end the interview at anytime, the purpose is to help ensure that the statement is admissible in Court if a prosecution occurs.  Again, it is important to note that an individual has no obligation to be interviewed by law enforcement.

If you feel that you have been harassed by the police or believe that they have used your words against you for any reason, you should contact an attorney immediately. At Hilf & Hilf PLC, we have extensive experience will all areas of criminal law, and we’re dedicated to protecting your rights and helping you assert them. Contact us today to schedule a consultation with an attorney who is eager to help you with your case.

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