Protect Your Rights & Stay Silent: What to Do if the Police Want to Talk to You in Pennsylvania
When the police want to talk to you about a crime in Pennsylvania, it is essential to understand your rights. Missteps can result in criminal charges and potentially very harsh penalties. Here, our Pittsburgh defense attorneys explore the best practices for dealing with police encounters and how to prepare for police questioning.
Why Police Might Want to Question You
Encounters with the police can be intimidating and overwhelming, regardless of the circumstances, leaving individuals unsure how to proceed. By understanding the common motives behind police questioning, you can better prepare to handle these situations confidently and clearly.
Some of the most common offenses you could be questioned for in PA include:
- White collar crimes
- Sex crimes
- Drug crimes
- Violent crimes
- Federal crimes
- Burglary and robbery
Remember, police and other members of law enforcement usually must advise you of your Miranda rights before they take you into custody. You must exercise these rights and be aware of what to do.
Only Answer the Required Questions
When the police ask you questions, you are under no legal obligation to answer them. However, there are some questions you may be required to answer. These include:
- Your name
- Your address
- Your date of birth
You may need to show law enforcement officials and investigators your state-issued identification to prove your identity. Beyond this, you are not required by law to answer any questions. You do not need to tell them where you are coming from, where you are headed, or any seemingly inconsequential questions.
Their questions may seem simple enough, but they could be crucial information to an officer’s investigation against you.
Ask if You are Free to Leave
If police attempt to question you after you allow them to verify your identity, do not respond. Instead, ask whether you are free to go. If you are not formally charged or being interrogated, you should be free to leave of your own accord. Otherwise, they may take you into custody for further questioning.
In Pennsylvania, police can typically hold you for as much as 48 hours or 72 hours due to holidays and weekends. If law enforcement officials do not file formal charges before this time limit, they must release you from police custody.
Police might employ unscrupulous tactics to convince you do not have the right to leave. This is why having a defense attorney before you say something that could later be used to facilitate criminal charges against you at trial is so important.
Exercise Your Rights During Police Questioning
If the police are questioning you, you must take action to protect yourself and your future. Once you understand your rights, you must be ready to exercise them.
Your Right to Remain Silent
During police questioning, express that you are exercising your right to remain silent. No matter how much they try to push or intimidate you, don’t answer any questions they ask or give any further information.
Remember that anything you say can and will be used against you. It is not uncommon for the police to rely on self-incriminating statements to pursue formal criminal charges. However, if you don’t say anything, the police may not have the evidence they need to file charges against you.
Your Right to an Attorney
When questioned by the police, make sure you exercise your right to an attorney. Your Pennsylvania criminal defense lawyer will be there to let you know which questions to answer and which ones you do not have to answer and help you exercise your right to leave when you are legally free to do so.
Protect Against Violations of Your Rights During Police Questioning
If the police violate your rights, your defense lawyer should work diligently to get the charges dismissed. Any evidence illegally obtained through violating your 4th Amendment rights or failing to read your Miranda rights should be tossed out in court. If the district attorney relied on this evidence to convict you, they might be forced to drop the charges against you entirely.
Do not hesitate to invoke your right to remain silent and get a criminal defense attorney immediately if police have stopped you, are being questioned, or are taken into police custody. It could be your best chance to avoid formal criminal charges or a conviction.
Get Help From a Criminal Defense Attorney Today
When you need an attorney during questioning or after law enforcement officials violate your rights, contact a respected Pennsylvania criminal defense attorney at Worgul, Sarna, & Ness Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC. We will fight to get the charges against you reduced or dismissed altogether. Our firm offers confidential consultations to victims of police misconduct across the state of Pennsylvania.
Call Worgul, Sarna, & Ness at (412) 281-2146. for a free and confidential consultation today.