Given enough time, most, if not all, of us will have an interaction with a law enforcement officer, whether it is a police officer, federal agent, etc. Though, most of our interactions with law enforcement will be with police officers. This brings up the question, “how does one interact with the police?”
First, everyone has a constitutional right to not interact with the police and can remain silent during questioning. One may not feel comfortable enough to simply walk away, but that does not mean that an interaction is needed. They can ask whatever questions they want, but one does not need to answer. And, no one can be punished for refusing to answer police officer questions.
Before speaking with a police officer, it is always a good idea to speak to a lawyer. And, it is legal and acceptable to tell a police officer that. In fact, if one is being arrested, ask for one immediately and do not engage with the police. Do not fight them. Do not argue with them. Follow directions, and do not resist. Remember, one can avoid the time later, but if a police officer wants to arrest someone, they are going to be arrested. Do not make a bad situation worse, even if the police officer is violating one’s civil rights. Justice will come later. Just ask for a lawyer.
Depending on where one is located, there are some states and cities that mandate that one must provide their name, if asked for it by law enforcement. If one is pulled over for a traffic violation, the driver must provide their driver’s license, proof of registration and automobile insurance, when asked. In addition, there are some additional requirements for non-citizens. Though, other than these limited circumstances, one does not have to speak with the police. And, even during a traffic stop, after one has given their name, driver’s license, proof of registration and automobile insurance, any additional questions do not have to be answered.
What if one has already spoken to the police?
For Houston, Texas, residents that have already spoken with the police, anything that was already disclosed to them can be used in court against anyone, including the speaker. Nonetheless, just because one has participated in an investigation or spoken with the police before does not mean they cannot invoke their right to remain silent later. It is okay to go silent and ask for a lawyer at any time.