If the police arrest you on criminal allegations, they may try to get you to talk. For instance, it’s common for them to act intimidating and use their position of authority to make you think that you have to answer. In other cases, they may tell you something like “this will go better for you” if you just answer their questions on the spot. The goal is to manipulate you into making a mistake or incriminating yourself through what you say.
Make no mistake about it: You do not have to talk to them without an attorney. This is a fundamental right in the United States. No matter how they make you feel, you can exercise your right to remain silent and tell them you want to speak with your lawyer.
Can they punish you for it?
The officers may try to be kind and act like they’re on your side or like they’re just trying to help. This act may fade when you refuse to talk. It’s easy to assume this means things are going to be worse for you — i.e., that they can punish you for refusing to answer their questions. Don’t worry. They cannot do so. The charges against you will not get worse, and they can’t charge you with something like resisting arrest or obstructing justice just for staying silent.
Can you walk away?
If you have not been arrested, you don’t even have an obligation to talk to the officer at all. You can just ask them if you’re being detained. If not, you’re free to leave any time you want, just as you could when talking to a stranger on the street. If you are being detained or arrested, and they tell you so, that may mean you can’t walk away, but you still do not have to talk.
Your rights are incredibly important when facing arrest. Make sure you know what they are, what steps to take and how to get the legal assistance that you deserve.