If a police officer questions you about a crime, your first instinct may be to fully explain the details of the event. After all, you may think that you are helping by providing a complete report to the police.
The only problem is, this rarely works. The more you speak, the greater chance you have of increasing police suspicion.
Law enforcement officers may seem friendly and relaxed while speaking with you. This may even be the case if they have pulled you over for a suspected drunk driving. Even if the officer's tone is friendly, you should not feel comfortable to speak freely. Prior to an arrest, and even after an arrest, you have a right to remain silent.
Here are some reasons why you should remain silent when interacting with police officers until you can speak with an attorney:
- Your story may change - Even if you are telling the truth and providing details as you believe them to be, the slightest gaps or variations to your story may hurt you. Adding or subtracting details each time you explain something, or not putting the course of events in the right order, can cause suspicion. Your story does not have to be told immediately, and giving yourself time to get your story straight may help everyone involved.
- There is no leniency by helping the police on the spot - A police officer may tell you that information you provide can only help you later. If you feel a situation has gone beyond your control, there is no need to try to solve it under pressure. Once you speak with your attorney, you can determine whether it would be best to provide certain information.
- Do not admit to something to try and help the situation- Some people feel that providing a little of the information that the police officers are looking for will satisfy them enough to move on. However, this can be detrimental. You may accidentally signal that you have reason to be questioned. As innocent as you may be, the more information you provide, the more an officer may question your motives.
- You may inadvertently be untruthful - Speaking with the police can be stressful. It can make you do and say things you may not normally do because you are under scared. The stress does not mean you are guilty, but the fear of wrongly being accused of a crime can make some people exaggerate. The best thing to do if you feel intimidated is to remain silent.
Talking yourself out of an arrest or from being suspected of a crime is unlikely. Remaining silent also does not mean you are guilty, it just means you are waiting for the proper time to give your side of the story.