For most motorists, looking in the rearview mirror and seeing the flashing lights of a police car is not a welcome sight. Even if you have done nothing worse than forget to renew your plates or fix a broken taillight, it is still an inconvenience to be pulled over while driving. What if the reason you are pulled over is for something more serious though? For example, what if you have been drinking and you get pulled over or you have contraband in the vehicle? Do you have to talk to the police when you get pulled over?
Most people have heard the now famous Miranda rights read to a suspect in one of the many reality cop shows or at least in a television drama or Hollywood blockbuster. Among the rights read to a suspect is the right to remain silent. Your right to remain silent is one of the most powerful and important rights you have as a citizen of the United States; yet, the vast majority of the people in the U.S. who are confronted by law enforcement waive that right almost immediately by consenting (explicitly or implicitly) to answering questions. The fact remains, however, that you do have the right to remain silent when stopped by a police officer.
If you are pulled over, the officer has the right to ask you for identification, for the officer’s safety. Providing the officer with your identification, however, is the extent of the questions you are required to answer during a traffic stop. People often feel that by refusing to answer questions, or by asserting their right to remain silent, that they appear guilty. The truth, however, is that if you are indeed guilty of anything, answering questions is very likely to illicit incriminating information that will ultimately be used against you in court. Therefore, you have the option to remain silent and run the risk that the officer may think you are guilty of something or start talking and provide the officer with evidence that will likely prove you are guilty of something.
If you choose to assert your right to remain silent, always do so respectfully by saying something along the lines of “Officer, I wish to speak to my attorney before answering any questions” or “Officer, on advice from my attorney I wish to invoke my right to remain silent.”
If you have additional questions relating to the best way to handle being pulled over, or you have concerns about the way a stop was handled recently when you were pulled over, consult with the experienced Tennessee criminal defense attorneys at Bennett, Michael & Hornsby. Contact the team today by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your appointment.
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