Being questioned by California police officers can be scary for many people even when they are not a suspect. Officers often question individuals as though they are not suspected of criminal activity just to attempt to lead them into potential self-incrimination. While we do have general legal protection regarding providing evidence against ourselves, this typically only applies after being taken into custody. It can be very difficult to avoid speaking with officers when not being arrested, but there are still some basic rights that can be invoked in certain situations.
There is no requirement to speak to police in an investigation. And when choosing to speak, it is important to not lie to the officer because this in itself can result in a criminal charge. The best decision when actually cooperating is to answer succinctly and do not embellish the answer. Say as little as possible. In addition, questioned individuals may also ask if they are under suspicion of committing a crime or free to leave as they wish. And also remember, if you are not allowed to leave, you are a suspect even if the officer says you are not. Criminal defense attorneys will say that preparing a criminal defense actually begins at this point.
Personal responsibilities when being questioned
California criminal defense attorneys also advise everyone that it is important to remember behavior during questioning can result in potential criminal charges as well beyond the suspected crime, and especially when an officer thinks you have information they want. Officers can be aggressive and intimidating when conducting investigations, and officer teams often play “good cop/bad cop” in gleaning information. Pay close attention to details regarding the questioning process because an arrest can be forthcoming when officers think they have probable cause for criminal activity.
Probably the most common scenario of being questioned by police occurs in traffic stops. There is specific documentation they can ask to see during a traffic stop, all of which are associated with authorization for using the highway. Immigrants may also have additional documentation requests. Auto registration, insurance, and driver’s license are the typical requirements, but commercial drivers may have other requirements when being questioned regarding their cargo and operating logs.