Philadelphia Civil Rights Lawyer: Answering A Police Officer’s Questions

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There are many situations where a person may be stopped by police and asked questions. Police can legally ask a person anything they want. Based on the circumstances, different legal protections can apply. It’s important to know how this situation can be properly handled. It could avoid a lot of potential trouble in the future.

On The Street

There may be situations where a police officer will stop you on the street. You could fit the description of a person who just committed a crime. It could be a high crime area, and it’s late at night. The police officer may just think you look suspicious. The law gives the police officer the right to stop you. You also have the right to refuse to answer any of their questions. Ask the police officer if you are going to be detained. If they say you are not, you can simply walk away.

During a Traffic Stop

You are required by law to provide a police officer with your driver’s license, vehicle registration and proof of insurance. You don’t have to answer any questions. If you are arrested or detained you do have to provide your name.

Asked To Come In For Questioning

This is a judgment call based on an individual’s situation. In order for a person to be read the Miranda warning, they need to be in police custody. When a person is voluntarily going into a police station for questioning, these protections do not technically apply. It’s important a person realize they can legally refuse to answer any questions they are asked in this situation.


When a person is arrested, they are considered in police custody. They should have been read their Miranda rights. A person can invoke their Fifth Amendment right to remain silent. Police can continue to ask questions. At this time, it may be good to not speak with the police until after talking with an attorney. Even idle conversation can be turned into evidence against a person.

Recording An Interview

There is a real concern the police will distort what a person tells them, and make it into something they didn’t intend. Some people will speak with police and request to have their statements recorded. They then request a written summary of the conversation be provided to them. There is a downside to doing this. Once a person’s words are recorded, they will have to live with what they said. There is no longer a way to argue the police distorted any part of their statement.

For legal help, call Patrick G. Geckle LLC at 215-735-3326 or contact us online.