Sometimes being pulled over by the police in Billings while driving comes as a complete surprise. You have no idea why the police are pulling you over. The situation becomes even more intimidating when the police start trying to question you about alleged illegal activity. You may wonder if you have to answer their questions. The following is a brief overview of what your rights are when you are being questioned by police.
Are you required to answer any questions?
First, it is important to understand that per the U.S. Constitution, you have a right to remain silent if you are detained. You are detained if you are under the impression that you are not free to simply walk away from the officer. This might be when you are arrested or if you are in jail. You have the right to speak to an attorney before answering any questions.
Exceptions to the rule
There are two exceptions to the rule that you have a right to remain silent. Some states require you to identify yourself if the police stop you and ask for your name. However, after giving your name you do not need to answer any other questions. Second, if police pull you over while driving because you committed a traffic infraction, the police are allowed to require you to provide them with your driver’s license, vehicle registration and proof of insurance. Again, though, you do not have to answer anything other questions they may ask.
What if I say something to the police?
It is important to note that if the police question you and you give them answers, these answers can be used against you. Note that lying to government officials is illegal but remaining silent until you can talk to an attorney is not. Even if you start answering questions, you can decide to stop answering any further questions until you have legal representation.
Being questioned by the police can be intimidating and you may feel pressure to answer their questions. But you have the right to remain silent when detained and questioned by police or when facing a criminal charge. Exercising your right to remain silent and waiting to talk to an attorney can be a good way to protect your rights and interests if you are accused of a crime.