What rights do I have during police questioning?

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jul 16, 2021

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During police questioning, law enforcement officers ask questions of victims, witnesses and suspects. If you feel that you are a suspect or could later be considered a suspect, you should speak with an attorney before speaking with law enforcement officers. What you say to your attorney is protected from disclosure to others by the attorney-client privilege. What you say during police questioning can be used against you, regardless of whether there is a physical record (either written or recorded) of the conversation.

You can always inform the law enforcement officer that you wish to speak with an attorney before answering any questions. At that point (if you are in custody), the questioning must stop and you will be provided with the opportunity to speak with an attorney. After a reasonable amount of time, law enforcement officers may return and begin to ask you questions again. If you have not spoken with an attorney, you may continue to refuse to answer questions until such time as you have obtained legal assistance.

Victims and witnesses are encouraged to report crimes and cooperate in the prosecution of crimes. The reporting of crimes includes answering questions presented by law enforcement officers and officers of the court (including personnel at city, district, state and federal attorneys offices as well as authorized agents of other government agencies).

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