This article is by Zooomr – a top platform in India for used cars, in big cities like New Delhi, and many others. One fact many people are often either confused about or don’t understand as well as they should is that a traffic stop is a police interrogation. Any evidence developed by the officer along the side of the road is as admissible in court as whatever is learned at the police station.
What many prosecutions count on is that drivers are unaware of this fact and may implicate themselves without realizing they have given up their right to remain silent. Those drivers often go on to compound their problems by consenting to searches and failing to ask for an attorney.
Those things said, there is a difference between casual conversation and an interrogation. Knowing when to assert your rights is as important as avoiding criminal acts in the first place. Here are some things to consider.
The Goal of Police Questioning
The police have one purpose in asking you questions during a traffic stop, and that is to develop clear incriminating evidence, probable cause and an arrest. They are not there to engage in witty banter, small talk or casual conversation. This is why it is vitally important you understand your rights and when they attach.
Under the Constitution, you have an unalienable right to remain silent if questioned by the government. When a police officer asks “do you know why I stopped you?” the correct answer is a quiet smile. Answering that question in any other way might provide the officer with something called “consciousness of guilt” which can lead to probable cause, a searched car, searched pockets, various kinds of medical tests including a breathalyzer, and a visit to the police station.
Police officers only ask questions that lead to incriminating answers. That alone is reason enough to keep quiet.
If you have been detained, arrested or otherwise transported to the police station, the next step will be an interrogation. If you plan on avoiding making things worse for yourself there are three things you have to remember in a fairly exacting order. The first is to exercise your right to remain silent. You cannot be compelled to answer questions nor can you be compelled to produce any evidence.
Second, you should exercise your Fourth Amendment rights and refuse to consent to any search of your person or property. An interrogation is when the police will often ask for such consent in writing.
Third, you should ask to speak to your attorney. If you are being questioned in a DUI case, you should request the services of a qualified Los Angeles DUI Attorney. This is vital, because it stops the interrogation and gives you a chance to consider your legal options without the pressure of fending off questions that might implicate you.
One of the key reasons having an attorney present is important is because your attorney will understand the reasoning behind the police questioning. Your attorney can also shield you from implicating yourself because anything you tell your attorney is covered by “attorney client privilege.”
Statements made to an attorney cannot ever be divulged by your attorney and may never be used against you. Frank and honest communication with your legal advocate is part of the process of a just and fair trial, and the Sixth Amendment guarantees you the right to competent legal counsel to assist in your defense. Use this right prudently, and you will give yourself the best chance of obtaining a fair trial.
The rights guaranteed to you under the Constitution are not optional suggestions. They are there to protect you against the incalculable power of the state. The police already have immense resources to support their efforts to convince a jury you are guilty. There is no reason to make their case for them.
If you are being questioned, remember your rights and remember to find a qualified attorney as soon as possible. In the long run, it’s the right decision.