It might surprise you to know that you don’t have to talk to police – your right to remain silent is pretty much absolute. In many cases, talking to the police, even if you’re innocent, is the worst thing you can do. Here’s what you need to know.
Do You Have to Talk to Police?
When the police approach you and start asking you questions, you don’t have to answer them. Remember, though, that police do have the right to temporarily question people without arresting them. Under Wisconsin law, when a police officer identifies him- or herself as a law enforcement officer, he or she can stop you on suspicion that you’re committing, about to commit, or have recently committed a crime. The officer has the right to demand your name and address, as well as an explanation of your conduct – but you don’t have to provide any of that information.
However, if you choose not to provide any of that information, you may make the officer suspicious. It may appear as if you’re hiding something.
You can ask the officer if you’re free to leave. If he or she says yes, you can walk away – but you definitely have to do so calmly and slowly while keeping your hands in sight. You should be respectful at all times for your own safety.
If the officer says you’re not free to go, it means he or she believes there is a reasonable suspicion about you. (And again, sometimes refusing to say who you are or what you’re doing in the area can make the police officer suspect that you’re hiding something.) When an officer has a reasonable suspicion, he or she can pat you down or frisk you to search you. You should never physically resist a police officer; instead, say out loud (but politely) that you do not consent to a search.
Keep in mind that police are trained to keep suspects talking while they’re searching them. You can simply say, “I don’t want to talk.”
If the police end up arresting you, you still don’t have to talk to them. You can simply let them know that you won’t be answering any questions until you’ve had the chance to talk to your attorney.
Were You Arrested in Wisconsin?
If you’ve been arrested, remember that it’s better to say nothing at all – even if you’re completely innocent. Never, ever confess to the police, no matter what they promise you; they have no authority to make things easier on you or get a judge to pass a lighter sentence, regardless of what they say.
Instead of talking to police, you have every right to talk to a lawyer. Call us at 414-383-6700 if you’ve been arrested for any reason – we may be able to help you.