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Police Encounter FAQs

A police officer can order you to exit your vehicle at any time. If you’re pulled over, the officer’s first question will usually be whether you know why you were pulled over. You should not respond with an admission of any kind. Sometimes, they do pull people over for no real reason. If you give them an answer, you've just given them the reasonable suspicion they need for an encounter to take place. If they have reasonable suspicion to detain you, they can ask you to get out of the vehicle for literally any reason.
No. If a police officer asks your permission to search, you are under no obligation to consent. The main reason why officers ask is that they don't have enough evidence to search without your consent. If you consent to a search request you give up one of the most important constitutional rights you have -- your Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches and seizures. A majority of avoidable police searches occur because citizens naively waive their Fourth Amendment rights by consenting to warrantless searches. As a general rule, if a person consents to a warrantless search, the search automatically becomes legal. Consequently, whatever an officer finds during such a search can be used to convict the person. Don't expect a police officer to tell you about your right not to consent. Police officers are not required by law to inform you of your rights before asking you to consent to a search. In addition, police are prepared to use their authority to get people to consent to searches, and most people are predisposed to comply with any request an officer makes. For example, the average motorist stopped by an officer who asks them, "Would you mind if I search your vehicle, please?" will probably consent to the officer's search without realizing that they have every right to deny the request. If for any reason you don't want the officer digging through your belongings, you should refuse to consent by saying something like, "Yes, I do mind. I have private, personal items in my [car, backpack, etc.] and do not want you looking through them." If the officer still proceeds to search you and find illegal contraband, your attorney can argue that the contraband was discovered through an illegal search and should be thrown out of court. You should never hesitate to assert your constitutional rights. Just say "NO! If I'm Not Doing Anything Illegal, Why Shouldn't I Let The Police Search Me? The sad fact is that most people believe that they are under some kind of obligation to acquiesce when an officer contacts them and asks permission to search them or their belongings. The truth is the exact opposite: You have a right to associate with and speak to whomever you please. In this respect, there is nothing special about a police officer. Assuming you would not let a complete stranger look through your purse or search your pockets, why would you allow a police officer to do so? -- Especially if you're not doing anything illegal!!! Just say "NO" to unwarranted searches!
If you're called to come down to give a statement about anything, you should hire an attorney immediately. Many people wait weeks before they finally hire an attorney and then respond to the police. If the case goes to trial with the detective testifying, he will reveal that it took several weeks to get the defendant to answer their questions. You should hire an attorney, and under no circumstance should you give a statement by yourself. In most scenarios, it is even a bad idea to go give a statement with your attorney present. Some very good attorneys will refuse to take a case if a client insists on going down and giving a statement. They don't want to be the attorney who is sitting there while their clients are giving a confession. It's almost never advisable to go give a statement. Most people do because they think they can talk their way out of it. They can’t.
Yes. Police can, will, and often do lie -- especially if it helps them make arrests. One obvious example of this is when undercover officers claim not to be police. The rules regarding entrapment usually tip in favor of law enforcement, so the police won't hesitate to trick you into incriminating yourself or others. This is particularly common during interrogations in which officers might tell you that "your friend already gave you up, so you might as well come clean." Supreme Court decisions have firmly established the right of law enforcement officials to lie to suspects, even about whether or not they are police officers. Entrapment is against the law, but lying about being a police officer does not constitute entrapment. The best defense against these manipulative tactics is to avoid saying anything to police without first speaking with an attorney.
Miranda Rights: People often ask me, if after being arrested will I be released or later will my case be dismissed if they did not read me my Miranda Rights? The answer is no on all counts. You will not be released from jail based on the fact that you were not read your rights. When it comes to DWI, there are warnings called DIC (Driver Information Center) warnings, in regards to whether you want to give a breath or blood test. They do have to read those at a certain point, but it has nothing to do with Miranda rights. You have a right to remain silent. They have no duty to tell you that. At the most, failure to have your Miranda rights read may result in a particular statement becoming inadmissible in court. In no way does it result in a case being dismissed or a suspect being released. There is a law, however, stating that you've got to be arraigned by a magistrate judge within 48 hours of arrest, which would apprise you of those rights.
It depends. Police officers who are undercover and working in plainclothes must identify themselves when exercising their police powers. However, a police officer in plainclothes is not ever; required to identify themselves on demand, and may even lie about them even being a police officer in some situations. If a police officer working in plainclothes wants to utilize their authority as a peace officer in certain situations where they are attempting to make an arrest, possibly if they attempt to initiate a search, or even demand certain things such as demanding that a citizen move on, they would have to provide their identity and that they are a police officer. 1.    Officers are not required to identify themselves if asked, i.e. - they can lie. Generally, police officers are required to identify themselves as an officer before making an arrest. See, OSCN Found Document: Warrantless Arrest. No, an officer doesn’t have to tell you whether he is an officer or not. However, a plain closed officer making an arrest without a warrant would be required to disclose he is an officer and the basis of the arrest. In terms as used in your question, the short answer is NO. A police officer like any member can knock on your front door and do so without announcing who they are before you respond to their knocking. In a more specific context, police officers seeking to search a residence with a search warrant are required to " knock and announce" meaning knock or ring the doorbell and identify themselves as law enforcement with a search warrant. the knock and announce rule was created by the courts to avoid the potential for violence that would be presented by officers simply forcing their way into a house with alerting the occupants to the lawful purpose being effected. Law enforcement officers are not always required to show identification upon request. If you're pulled over in Texas, the only thing that you're required to do is give the officer either your name or your identifying information, which is usually your license. The officer, on the other hand, does not have to give you anything. If the police are at your door and trying to come in and search, they do have to identify themselves. Someone can't come to your door and hide the fact that they are a police officer. If they have a search warrant, in fact, a judge can authorize what's called a knock and announce. They knock and identify themselves as a police officer and if the person doesn't answer, they are legally able to physically enter the residence. If you're approached by police in public, they don't have the responsibility of identifying who they are. They probably will, because they want you to recognize the power that they have. That’s how they get the information they want or the consent to search. If they are in uniform, they just have to tell you their name, rank, and station.  If the officer does not tell you, ASK.  Security guards at special events are required to show their ID or have it clearly shown on them before you need to follow their directions. So, there are two answers to this question.
You should never make any statements, interviews, question and answer sessions (regardless of how formal or informal they may tell you they will be) without first getting advice from your attorney, and nor should you do anything to make the invocation of your right to remain silent. Simply put, never speak to the police, a district attorney, an investigator, or any other individual who represents a law enforcement entity without the advice, counsel, and presence of your attorney.  If the police convey to you directly how they are investigating a crime, and they express their desire to speak to you to ask questions related to the matter, you should respond very politely and with respect, but also make very clear and without any equivocation how you have no intention of ever speaking about this matter without your criminal defense lawyer.

What You Say to Police Can Be Used Against You:

Over and over again, you can hear cops on TV telling people that anything they say can and will be used against them in a court of law. This is absolutely accurate. Take heed of this advice and keep quiet. Keep in mind, this simple advice may seem easy in theory but it may not prove so easy in practice. Police are schooled in interrogation techniques. Some cops are artists at figuring out ways to get suspects to make statements that they consider to be confessions. A common scenario for why it is good practice to say as little as possible during police encounters would be during routine DWI investigations after one has been stopped in their vehicle. The state has to prove every element of the criminal charge beyond a reasonable doubt. Often, they may fail to be able to do so even with what seem to be very common or routine elements. For example, charges of Driving While Intoxicated in Texas requires the element (among others) of the state actually proving an individual was “operating” a motor vehicle in a public place while intoxicated. Many times, they can’t prove that the person was operating the motor vehicle without their own admission after being asked what seem to be very benign questions by the police officer investigating the incident. Often, a police officer who is dispatched to investigate a possible individual for a charge of DWI will arrive after the fact, perhaps when the person is not even driving. In most scenarios where this occurs, almost all people usually just admit to the element of the operation. The officer asks what seem to be routine questions such as “where were you going? Where were you coming from?” Usually, people respond to this question, but by doing so they are implicitly admitting to the “operation” of the vehicle. If they instead do not answer ANY questions posed to them, it is possible the state might not be able to prove an element of the offense in order to gain a conviction. Another situation exists when an individual may receive a call from a police officer claiming they are investigating a crime and want them to come down to the station and answer just a few “routine questions.” Even if you’re not guilty of whatever they are investigating a person for, usually they already have made the determination of if they will arrest, so complying with their request is absolutely futile. All one would be doing, in essence, is providing the police with further ammunition to possibly use as evidence later in court. When a person does comply with the request, it is usually because they want the opportunity to try and explain to the police officer what the factual scenario was, perhaps in the hope they can talk their way out of it, or make them understand it from their own point of view. Regardless, if this situation presents itself – one will only be making it worse for them, as the investigating police officer usually is only seeking to just verify whatever information he already suspects and to hopefully gain more.  Even very benign and simple statements that do not seem important may lead to an admission of some element of whatever crime they are investigating, such as admitting you were in the place where the crime occurred. It is possible that this is something they may not have been able to prove otherwise but for the admission of you admitting to being at or near the scene of the alleged incident or crime.  Police officers to not write the details of the facts in a manner that is in the person’s favor giving the statement, or even in the way you may actually be telling them when explaining whatever may have occurred. Instead, they will undoubtedly write it in a narrative fashion in a manner and form of how best to prove whatever the charges may be alleged against the person. A statement such as “I went to his house to pick her up and we went to go see a movie.” The police report will instead write something to the effect of “the suspect admitted to being on the premises.” Simply put, there is no winning, and one should avoid giving any statements to the police. Often people do so and are urging to explain their side of the events, but almost without fail this will not yield the desired results, and in all likelihood will somehow hurt their case and chance of obtaining a favorable result later in court.

Police Will Try to Trick You Into Talking

For decades, my partner and I have watched interrogation videos in awe. Even extremely intelligent people make the mistake of talking with the police. Believe it or not, even some of the best criminal defense attorneys have made the mistake of talking to the police, figuring that if they could just explain their side of things, the officer would let them go. No matter how nice that a police officer may seem, you must assume that they are trying to get information with which they can convict you. Do not fall for the nice guy routine. Remember, the courts have repeatedly held that the police have the right to lie. The only thing you need to say is that you want your lawyer.

Police May Try to Bully You Into Talking

Not all police interrogations are friendly question and answer sessions. Some can be downright hostile. But one thing remains the same. There is not one single thing that you need to discuss your case with the police or anyone else, for that matter, with the exception of your lawyer. Even if you find yourself in a raw interrogation that feels like you have no choice but to answer the officer’s questions, you should still politely decline and say in no equivocal terms, “I want my lawyer.”
There is a YouTube series posted by a Harvard professor that addresses this in brilliant fashion. It is around two hours long, but well worth taking the time to listen to. It is incredibly informative and gives both an academic and practical approach for why it is never advantageous to give voluntary statements to the police. In my opinion, there are a few exceptions to this, most notably in federal cases where one can actually benefit from engaging in certain types of cooperation. Other than this – there are very few situations where it can be produced to give a statement to the police, however, there is a host of reasons for why it can be severely detrimental to an individual and their case.

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