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No one read me my rights! Don’t they have to?

When an officer asks if he can search your car, do you know the right answer? If a cop asks where you were on Sunday night, do you know what to say? If law enforcement invites you down to the station for a chat, do you know how to reply?

All of the above scenarios can lead to a non-custodial interview. Think a cop always has to read you your rights? Think again.

What is a non-custodial interview?

Anytime you voluntarily have a conversation with law enforcement, you are having a non-custodial interview. Courts have consistently held that as long as you are free to leave a conversation with an officer, you are not in custody.

Did you accept the invitation to go to the station and give a statement? It was your choice to go to the station, and the courts will hold that you, and you alone, violated your Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate yourself. Anything you say in that situation can, and will, be used against you.

Should I answer?

When an officer approaches you in the street and asks where you were Sunday night, and you voluntarily say you were at the Safeway where there just happened to be a robbery, you have given the cop information that can be used against you. You, in effect, have chosen to implicate yourself. You are not under arrest and you could have walked away or simply not responded. You are guaranteed that right under the Fifth Amendment.

If an officer stops you and asks to search your car, and you say you’d prefer that he didn’t because your cousin just used your car and he smokes a lot of pot, you freely gave information that could be used to prosecute both you and your cousin.

When should talk to a cop?

Under the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution, you have the right not to incriminate yourself. You are the only person who can protect that right. Law enforcement is not required to respect it. Unless you have been arrested, you have the sole responsibility to invoke it. When should you talk to law enforcement? Never.

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JR Standring, Attorney At Law
177 N. Church Avenue
Suite 200
Tucson, AZ 85701

Phone: 520-829-4225
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