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Dealing with law enforcement in any capacity can be disconcerting. This is particularly true if you were arrested for a crime or if you’re considered a suspect or person of interest in relation to a crime. You will undoubtedly be asked a multitude of questions, but should you answer them? Here’s what you need to know.

You Must Identify Yourself

When approached by a police officer, whether you are pulled over while driving or are approached any other capacity, you must identify yourself. You do not have the right to deny identifying yourself to a police officer, even if you’re not being arrested.

You Do Not Have to Answer Other Questions

Beyond identification, you aren’t required to answer questions you are asked by police. For example, a police officer may ask:

  • Where are you coming from?
  • Where are you going from?
  • Have you been drinking?
  • How much have you had to drink?
  • When was the last time you had a drink?
  • Have you smoked marijuana?
  • When was the last time you used drugs?
  • Where were you at X time on X date?

These are questions you can simply reply “no comment” to. Even if you’re completely innocent, answering these questions may provide a police officer with words that can be used against you in court.

Consent to Search

You do not have to consent to a search if you are asked to search your person or property. Police legally cannot search without a warrant or without probable cause. However, they often initiate a search anyway and look for probable cause later. The police can search your property without consent, but make it clear that you do not consent in order to protect your rights later on. If police decide to search without a warrant and without your consent, you cannot stop them or interfere.

When to Contact an Attorney

If you’ve been arrested, you should contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. However, even if you are simply a suspect, you should consult with a lawyer to learn about your rights. At Riverside Criminal Defense, we have the skills and resources to help protect you when you’re interacting with law enforcement. Contact us for a consultation today by calling 951-384-7375.