What do I do if the Police Interview or Question Me?


First and foremost, anytime law enforcement wants to conduct an interview or “ask you a couple questions,” ask to speak to an attorney. Most importantly, you should always have an attorney present. An attorney can give you advice on why the officers are most likely present, what to do, and what your rights are. Yes…you have rights and it is strongly advised to invoke those privileges.

Why is the Police there?

  1. Voluntary Contact
    1. This means that the officers approach an individual or individuals for any reason where they have a legal right to be. If they do not have a legal right to be without any reasonable suspicion, probable cause, or any exigent circumstance then they are not allowed to be there and you can ask them to leave.
    2. However, officers are prohibited from initiating contacts based on individual demographics, including, but not limited to race, ethnic background, national origin, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, or socioeconomic statutes.
    3. Most importantly, in voluntary contact situations, the individual is always free to leave. If the officer then says you are not free to leave then you are being detained.
    4. Examples:
      • Public areas
      • Officer was given permission to enter or be present there
      • Through search or arrest warrant (individuals that have nothing do without either, but are present when it happens).
      • Emergency situations
      • Homes to visit suspects or witnesses and ask for interviews/questions.
  1. Investigatory Detentions
    1. This occurs when officers have reasonable suspicion. Reasonable suspicion is where an officer based upon specific and articulable facts has a suspicion that there is criminal activity going on.
    2. Here, officers are not required to give suspects or individuals warnings regarding custodial interrogation. If an individual is not free to leave and the officers are asking certain questions pertaining to a certain charge, the officers must read certain rights.
    3. It is important to understand that investigatory detentions include pat-downs. However, there must be reasonable suspicion and there is specific, articulable facts that the suspect either is a threat to officer’s or another’s safety or possesses a weapon.
    4. Example:
      • “Not under arrest, we just want to speak to you.”
  1. Arrest
    1. An arrest occurs when there is probable cause. Probable cause is where there are certain facts or circumstances observed by a reasonable, prudent officer or within the his or her knowledge that someone has committed, is committing, or is about to commit an offense.

What to do in those situations?

Importantly, in each of these settings listed above, a person has the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney. Those rights must be explained out loud to the officers.

In a voluntary contact situation, you are free to leave or if the officer is not in a location where he or she has a right to be then you can ask the officer to leave.

If the officer explains that you are not free to leave then invoke your right to remain silent and the right to an attorney. These are your rights, you do not look guilty in order to talk to an attorney. The officers certainly know more about the law than a common person. There is a reason that everything you say to a police officer “can and will be used against you.” It is important to be aware of regular common people (who are not officers but have officer’s listening) asking about certain things you have done. Do not speak to anyone about facts, circumstances, or conduct that you think you did or know.

What does this avoid?

Better safe than sorry. A common person questioned by the police or asked to come down to the station have no idea what the real motive of the interview or questioning is. Law enforcement has many different tactics when conducting their interviews and questioning. Hiring an attorney can prevent unnecessary statements from being made. Also, an attorney will make sure that you understand each of the questions that are asked to you. In some circumstances, people unintentionally lie because they are nervous, have no help, and do not understand what they are answering or stating.

Hiring a legal team like Jetton & Meredith, allows to you to figure out why the police want to talk with you and alleviate stress. We handle numerous pre-charge matters to help put people’s minds at ease and figure out why the police have an interest in you. Call us now - 704.333.1114 for a free consultation.