Dealing with police officers or investigators is scary for the average person, whether guilty or innocent. Law enforcement officers can use your fear and anxiety against you during questioning about criminal activity.
Your participation in interviews or even seemingly casual conversations with the authorities can turn a possible problem into a legal disaster. You must exercise your rights when you speak with local, state and federal law enforcement, especially if under investigation.
Are you required by law to answer questions?
Your constitutional rights as an American citizen empower you to decline answering questions posed by law enforcement. Only a judge can order you to cooperate and respond to questions. One possible exception is that you may need to give your name if the police ask.
Should you answer if the officers threaten you?
No one from a U.S. law enforcement agency may obtain your cooperation through threats or coercion. Whether they threaten you physically or with a subpoena, you may refuse. If you intend to cooperate, consider getting legal representation to guide you through the questioning.
Must you answer questions in a counter-terrorism interview?
You always have the right to remain silent in America and may decline to answer questions in counter-terrorism interviews. Additional rights you have in such situations are:
- To have legal counsel present
- To know the questions in advance
- To decline to answer queries that make you uncomfortable
If the interview leads to an arrest, preserve your right to remain silent to avoid incriminating yourself.
It is wise to learn more about your constitutional rights if you are under investigation. Knowledge of Florida laws can also strengthen your criminal defense should your circumstances worsen.