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When can the police talk to you?

On Behalf of | Nov 5, 2023 | Criminal Defense |

For a variety of reasons, officers often care more about maintaining a high solve rate than they do about accurately identifying a person who broke the law. Partially as a result of this reality, many innocent people end up charged with crimes and may choose to plead guilty to the allegations they face because they feel that the state’s efforts can’t be countered effectively.

Oftentimes, the evidence used in someone’s prosecution stems from their conversations with police officers. Police officers can and do sometimes lie to people and manipulate them into implicating themselves. Those who know their rights will be less likely to make mistakes that lead to their arrest and prosecution. When can a police officer lawfully talk to an individual?

During an investigation

In theory, police officers can talk to anyone that they think may have useful information during a criminal investigation. However, they will frequently claim to want help during an investigation when their actual goal is to build the case against the person with whom they speak.

They may ask leading questions in an attempt to show that someone has information not available to the general public. They may try to convince someone that they have evidence or witnesses that they actually do not. Theoretically, police officers can talk to any member of the public about almost anything until they have probable cause to arrest and continue questioning that person.

After an arrest

Once an officer has the probable cause necessary to arrest an individual, their ability to talk to that person changes. Typically, before they continue questioning someone that they have taken into state custody, they must advise that person of their right to legal representation and the right to remain silent.

Officers will therefore try to get as much information from someone before arresting them as possible. They may also try to manipulate people into waiving their Miranda Rights out of fear of the consequences possible should they end up charged with a crime. Police officers might claim that they can talk to the prosecutor on behalf of an individual if they cooperate right away without a lawyer. Those manipulation tactics are underhanded but not technically illegal.

People need to know and assert both their right to an attorney and their right to remain silent when in state custody. Ideally, they will also refuse to talk casually with officers during an investigation, as what they say during that conversation can also contribute to a case against them. Ultimately, seeking legal guidance and better understanding when police officers can question or talk to someone can help people to more effectively assert themselves during uncomfortable interactions with law enforcement professionals.

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