There may be quite a few ideas rattling around in your head when you think about what your rights are when dealing with a police office, most of which came from all the cop shows you watch when there is nothing else more interesting. Some may be right, but some may be wrong. You can get into a whole lot of trouble if you don’t know the difference. According to the Kohler Hart Powell, SC website, you need to be very careful about what you do and say, as it can be used against you. While this might sound as common sense, it is easy to forget about it when the situation occurs. Here are some of your basic rights when dealing with the police.
You don’t have to answer their questions
It is true. If you have done nothing wrong (or at least the police officer does not appear to suspect you of anything), you do not have to answer their questions or let them do a search of your clothing, cars, or bags. You can, of course, if you want to, but in general, it would be better to find out what they want first before consenting to anything. They may find something that you do not want them to, and the fact that you consented to it means whatever incriminating evidence they find can be used against you. They will not need a warrant if you waive your right against search-and-seizure.
You do have to show identification
While you do not have to answer their questions, you generally do need to show identification, especially when you are stopped by police for a traffic violation or if they have probable cause i.e. reckless driving. This is based on a stop-and-identify statute that many states have. In Wisconsin, however, the police can ask for ID, but you don’t have to give them one, although you must give your name.
You can get in trouble for talking too much
If you are stopped, but not arrested or compelled to stay, then you do not need to have your Miranda rights read to you. However, anything you say at this point may still be used against you, so it would be best to say nothing until they tell you what you need to know. If they refuse to tell you, you can simply walk away. If they take you into custody, then they have to read you your Miranda rights. At this point, you will probably want a lawyer.