The Most Important Rule to Remember When Stopped by Police

Your Mother might be upset with me, but your tendency to be honest and to respect authority is your worst enemy when you are stopped by the police!!

(I will tell you below why not talking to police is neither dishonest nor disrespectful . . . It is simply your right as an American.)

I know; you have heard me say it before, but here it is again: You do not have to, and you should not, answer the questions of police officers if you are stopped or detained! You can respectfully decline; in fact it is your 5th Amendment blood-bought right as an American to respectfully decline and this refusal to cooperate cannot be used against you in a Court of law. But, just like on Law and Order: “Anything you say can be used against you . . .”

Here is how you do it: You: “I am sorry officer, but I choose to not answer questions.” (You can even blame me, like this: “I am sorry officer, but my Attorney has advised me not to answer questions.”) Then just sit there. Officer: “Well, I am going to have to arrest you and take you downtown then.” You: “OK.” Then be compliant with instructions.

The officer likely will not “take you downtown,” but even if he or she does, even that action (arresting you), although time-consuming, degrading, and potentially embarrassing, will not help convict you, but talking to the officer, indeed answering any questions, will almost certainly do nothing good for you. Nothing.

Of course those who are guilty must not answer the questions of those interrogating them. Of course. (Unbelievably, though, those who are guilty still feel the need to talk!). But even the innocent can be placed in great danger by answering questions of those who are investigating a crime. Yes, even your totally innocent and truthful answers can be used for many dangerous purposes: to confirm your location at a certain time perhaps, or verify who you know, or to record facts that you innocently know—which might connect you to other facts that you do not know—that when placed together might tend to implicate you, etc., etc.

Another angle: even your truthful answers, when later compared with someone else’s untruthful (or even mistaken) statements, can begin to make you look like you are trying to mislead law enforcement. So, by talking to the police innocently, you have now begun to look guilty, like you might have something to hide. You have implicated yourself—all by yourself. Not necessary!

Wow, how can you, as a normal relatively law abiding citizen, ever know in advance all the angles the police may have in relation to a particular criminal investigation? How can you know, while you are just walking about living your life, all the potential who, what, when, where, why, and how questions that might be relevant to solving a particular crime? A crime with which you might or might not even be aware. It’s impossible right? This is a lot of pressure, right? Doesn’t really seem fair?

True, so there’s only one solution to protect you, and it is time-proven: Stop Talking to Police!

To attempt to regain the love of the Mothers from my opening comments above, let me say this: Not talking to police when you are stopped or detained is not dishonest, nor is it disrespectful. Never lie to the police! That in itself is a crime—even if you were not involved in what they are asking you about. You can and should remain polite and cooperative when stopped by the police. They have an honorable job and are sworn to protect us all; they are worthy of your respect. You should identify yourself and be compliant with their instructions. You should respectfully call him or her “sir” or “ma’am.” Do nothing disrespectful. Make your Mother proud.