LEGAL GUIDE
Written by attorney James J White

Top Ten Responses to Being Interrogated by Law Enforcement

"The Man" (be he/she man or woman) is towering over you. "He" dedicates half of his day to working out and combat training. He's wearing armor and has: 1) handcuffs, 2) Mace Spray, 3) a taser, 4) a police baton and 5) a handgun. Just in case, he also has a shotgun in his "car" which is actually an armored vehicle specially equipped to disable your vehicle. This imposing character has stopped you alone at night. It's just the two of you. He asks you a question. What should you answer.

This is still America. You have the right to be free from intrusion by the State. You also have the right to remain silent. More and most importantly, you have the right to an attorney. How does this all translate? What this means is you should do the following: 1) yes, immediately stop your vehicle when signalled to do so (It is difficult to prove you had good cause to believe the person in the marked vehicle with flashing lights was an imposter), 2) Yes, always move slowly and keep your hands visible, preferrable on the 10 and 2 position on the steering wheel, inform the Officer if you are going to reach for something and where you are going to reach, 3) Yes, provide your name and date of birth, 4) yes, provide your license and registration and proof of insurance, and 5) yes, remain at the scene until informed you can leave.

When asked anything else your answer should be in the category of politely but firmly declining to answer. The top ten responses to law enforcement interrogation as they appeared on David Letterman (not really) are:

10) I don't believe I have to answer that.

9) I don't want to answer that.

8) Do I have to answer that?

7) I'm not going to answer that.

6) My lawyer told me I shouldn't answer questions beyond my name and date of birth.

5) My Dad told me I shouldn't answer questions beyond my name and date of birth.

4) Friends have told me I shouldn't answer questions beyond my name and date of birth.

3) The guy behind the counter at a local deli told me I shouldn't answer questions beyond my name and date of birth.

2) Lo siento, no hablo ingles (but only say this if you really don't speak English. Note: You are not required to speak Spanish to use this answer).

And the Number One answer in America is:

1) ON THE ADVICE OF MY LAWYER I WILL NOT ANSWER ANY QUESTIONS BEYOND MY NAME AND DATE OF BIRTH WITHOUT AN ATTORNEY BEING PRESENT.

Note: These answers prevent a lot of the typical answers like: 1) I just drove from the bar where I was drinking, 2) the weapons are hidden in the trunk, 3) the drugs are under the seat, 4) I have a no contact order with the passenger, 6) I just came from x location (where there was a burglary/robbery/theft) and the various goods openly visible in the car aren't mine, and 7) Why yes officer that is marijuana you smell.

If you need further clarification on this article please consult with your local defense attorney.

Additional resources provided by the author

Contact a local defense attorney or Public Defender for more information on how to politely but firmly not incriminate yourself.

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