What To Do & Not to Do When You believe You are a Suspect or Possible Suspect of Criminal Activity

Brian J Woolf

Written by

Criminal Defense Attorney

Contributor Level 10

Posted over 4 years ago. 1 helpful vote



It's the Law!

If a member of law enforcement instructs you to "stop", do so immediately!


Your Demeanor

Always be polite to the investigating officer. Do not be argumentative or combative!


Law Enforcement Identification

If the law enforcement officer is not dressed in uniform (i.e. "plain clothes"), ask for identification. However,even those who are in uniform are required to properly identify themselves to you. (Impostors are rare, but they are out there!)


The only Information that you are Required to Provide

Provide only your name,address and date of birth and show an ID, if requested to do so.If you are stopped for an alleged motor vehicle violation you are also required by law to provide your license, registration and insurance.


Are you Placed Under Arrest and hence Taken into Custody

If you are questioned and have followed and provided the information in Steps 1 thru 4 above, stop answering any further questions! Ask if you are under arrest? If not, are you free to go? If you are not free to leave, you are considered "in custody" and your Miranda Rights Warnings must be given to you.


Do Not Answer any more Questions

Whether you are merely being questioned or are in fact arrested, in either situation, tell the Officer that you will not answer any more questions until you have had the opportunity to contact and consult an attorney. After you have indicated your wishes to speak with an attorney you may not be questioned any further. HOWEVER, if you continue speaking and simply "volunteer" information, you are NOT covered by your Miranda rights.


Do Not fall into the Trap

In all likelihood you will be told that if you are "cooperative" and "honest" it will help you. Law enforcement have this down to an "art" and are trained in investigative techniques from day one at the Police Academy! DO NOT FALL INTO THIS TRAP! IN THE SHORT AND LONG RUN ,IT WILL NOT HELP YOU! And it will only make it tougher for your lawyer to assist you in a positive outcome. AGAIN,DON'T DO IT!


Do you Think that you are a "Suspect"?

If you are told you may leave and believe that you may be a 'target" or "suspect" of a criminal or motor vehicle violation investigation, immediately seek the advice of an attorney. DO NOT put it off for later. Because later may be TOO LATE!


If you Are "Arrested" and hence "Taken into Custody"

If you are placed under arrest i.e. taken into custody, DO NOT be disrespectful or combative as this behavior may only lead to additional charges against you (eg. Interference with a Police Officer or even Assault upon an Officer, the latter being a Felony).


Once Again, the Cardinal Rule PLEASE.............

DO NOT say another word until you have had the opportunity to speak with competent legal counsel who practices primarily in Criminal and/or Motor Vehicle Defense.

Additional Resources

If you need to locate an attorney, the Bar Association in your area may be able to assist you. You can also go on line and review websites of attorneys who practice in your area in criminal and/or motor vehicle defense.

The Law Offices of Brian J Woolf,LLC

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