When a crime occurs, but the suspect hasn’t been immediately identified, the police have to conduct a thorough investigation. Throughout the investigation, the police will gather and analyze evidence like DNA, blood, and/or other substances; they will carefully examine the crime scene and question witnesses, all of which will eventually lead to a potential pool of suspects.
If you are a possible person of interest during a criminal investigation, the police officer leading the investigation may call you or come to your home or workplace and ask you to come to the police station for questioning. A common question and concern many people have is do they have to go to the police station for questioning?
Should You Go or Refuse to Go to the Police Station for Questioning?
The short, quick answer is no, you shouldn’t go to the police station for questioning until you have retained legal representation. It is essential that talk with an experienced attorney about whether answering questions from the police is in your best interest.
Depending on the circumstances, your lawyer may advise you to not go to the police station and to not answer any questions. However, if you aren’t a suspect for the crime, and you are able to safely answer the questions without the possibility of self-incrimination, then your attorney may make arrangements for you to speak with the police, while the attorney is present.
How Should You Respond When Asked to Come to the Police Station?
If a police officer contacts you about coming to the station to answer questions, you don’t have to go to the police station with them, and you don’t have to immediately give them a time that you will go to the station; in fact, you should not go or give a time without first speaking with a skilled Orlando criminal defense attorney. So, when you respond to the police asking you to come in for questioning, you should simply say that you are happy and willing to cooperate, but you have to talk with your attorney first.
Make sure you ask for the name and contact information of the police officer that contacted you and let them know that you and your attorney will be in contact with them. Unfortunately, the police officer may not like your response, and they may try to intimidate you by telling you that it will be worse if you don’t cooperate or that they can take you to the station. In this situation, it is important that you are polite, but firm when you reiterate to the police officer that you will be happy to cooperate after talking with your lawyer.
What if You Are Arrested When Refusing to Go to the Station for Questioning?
One of the most common reasons why people agree to go to the police station for questioning is because they are fearful of being arrested. Although no one wants to be arrested or have an arrest on their record, this isn’t a valid reason for putting yourself in a potentially incriminating situation. If you do refuse to go to the police station for questioning and the police office makes the decision to arrest you, it is imperative that you cooperate. Afterward, you may contact an expungement attorney to legally seal your record and have a clean slate.
Do not attempt to run away, do not argue with the police officers, and do not struggle. Once you have been arrested and booked into jail, the police officer may try again to ask you questions, and you should immediately respond with “I am invoking my right to remain silent” and I want an attorney. Once you have asked for an attorney after being arrested, the police officer is required to immediately cease the questioning until you have legal representation.
Suspect or Witness
Even if you are considered to be a suspect in the crime being investigated, you have the right to remain silent before, during, and after an arrest. If you are a witness to the crime, the police cannot make you answer questions or provide them with any information pertaining to the case; however, if you do have information that may help an investigation, your attorney may recommend that you cooperate and provide the information you have to the police. If you are a “material witness” to a crime, the United States has a law that allows for incarceration for a certain period of time if you were witness to a violent crime, and you are considered to be a flight risk.
It is extremely important to understand that during a pre-arrest investigation as well as during a post-arrest interrogation, a police officer cannot under any circumstance force you to answer their questions. You have the right to decline answering questions and if you have answered questions, you may end the interview at any time and after being arrested, you are protected by your constitutional right to remain silent.