No. If you are arrested, you do not have to answer any questions or volunteer any information. Ask for a lawyer right away. Repeat this request to every officer who tries to talk to or question you. You should always talk to a lawyer before you decide to answer any questions.
According to the Justice Robert Jackson, Nuremberg Prosecutor, Supreme Court Justice:
"Any lawyer worth his salt will tell the suspect in no uncertain terms to make no statement to the police under any circumstances." Watts v. Indiana, 338 U.S. 49
Types Of Things The Police Might Tell You To Get You To Talk To Them:
- "If you don't answer my questions, I'll have no choice but to arrest you. Do you want to go to jail?" (They will arrest you either way.)
- "You're not a suspect - just help us understand what happened here and then you can go." (They will arrest you after you talk.)
- "If you don't answer my questions, I'm going to charge you with resisting arrest." (They will arrest you either way)
- "All of your friends have cooperated and we let them go home. You're the only one left." (They will arrest you either way.)
- "You are just here voluntarily and we appreciate you helping us with this. You are free to leave at any time." (If you try to leave, they arrest you.)
I recently heard Professor James J. Duane talk about the perils of talking to the police. He was accompanied by a former police officer. This is some of what he had to say in my continuing education program.
Cops are sneaky and there are lots of ways they can trick you into talking. They are allowed, even trained, to lie to you. Here are some cons they'll pull:
Good Cop/ Bad Cop:
Bad cop is aggressive and menacing, while a good cop is nice, friendly, and familiar (usually good cop is the same race and gender as you). The idea is bad cop scares you so bad you are desperately looking for a friend. A good cop is that friend until you are done talking.
The cops will tell you that your friends ratted on you so that you will snitch on them. Meanwhile, they tell your friends the same thing. If anyone breaks and talks, you all go down.
The cops will tell you that they have all the evidence they need to convict you and that if you "take responsibility" and confess the judge will be impressed by your honesty and go easy on you. What they really mean is: "we don't have enough evidence yet, please confess."
The cops may show you something and claim it is your fingerprints, or tell you they have your fingerprints.
The cops may tell you that they have you on video committing a crime. There may or may not be a video. It may or may not be someone who looks like you.
Even if the cop questioning you is completely honest, he/she is human and hears what he or she expects to hear. Jail is a very isolating and intimidating place. It is really easy to believe what the cops tell you. Insist upon speaking with a lawyer before you answer any questions or sign anything.