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Should You Answer Questions from the Police?

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The general rule of thumb when dealing with the police is that you should not say anything if you suspect that you may be implicated in a crime. In fact, the Fifth Amendment guarantees your right to remain silent in the face of police questioning. If you are taken into custody, the police are required to inform you of this right through a Miranda warning. However, police do not have to read you your Miranda rights until you have actually been taken into custody. The legal definition of “custody” means that the police have deprived you of your freedom of movement in any way. Until that time, they are not required to be read you your Miranda rights, and anything you may be used against you.

Let’s take a look at the various different kinds of police interactions in which you may be asked questions and examine your rights at each stage.

Stop and Frisk Detentions 

Occasionally, a police officer may stop you, ask you to identify yourself, and explain your presence at that particular time and place if he or she reasonably suspects that you are involved in the perpetration of a crime. This is known as “stop and frisk” or a “Terry stop,” after the Supreme Court case that decided its legality. When the police stop you to ask you these kinds of questions, it is a detention, not an arrest. While some states require you to show your ID or tell your name to the officer, Florida does not. In fact, you are not required to speak to the police at all during a stop and frisk detention.


An arrest goes beyond a stop and frisk detention. When you are arrested, an officer will normally deprive you of your right to freedom of movement and take you to a police station. There, you will be informed of the charges against you. If this occurs, an officer must inform you of your Miranda rights, including your right to remain silent. As such, you are not required to speak to the police at all during or after an arrest.

Police Interrogations

As with all other police encounters, your right to remain silent continues while you are being interrogated by the police. In addition to your right to remain silent, you also have the right to have an attorney present. Once you invoke this right, all further questioning by the police must cease until your attorney arrives. If you do decide to answer questions, you may re-invoke your right to remain silent at any time, and all further questioning must cease when you do so.

Contact a St. Petersburg Criminal Defense Attorney 

If you’ve been arrested, it is important that you contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. While you may think that you are helping your case by cooperating with police questioning, it is very easy to inadvertently say something that could be very damaging to you later. The attorneys at the Khonsari Law Group are experts at handling police questioning and criminal investigations. Please contact us for a free consultation to discuss your case by calling us at 727-269-5300.

1 https://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/fifth_amendment

2 https://www.oyez.org/cases/1967/67

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