At the Columbus, Ohio criminal defense law firm of Luftman, Heck & Associates we are often asked by our existing and potential clients whether they should talk with police if they have been stopped by police. We always counsel against this. This is not to say that we do not encourage our clients or potential clients to obey all lawful commands they receive from a police officer. This includes requests to provide a driver’s license or stepping out of the vehicle if you have been pulled over for a potential traffic violation and a police officer requests that you do so. Nevertheless, you are not required under Ohio law to answer any and every question that a police officer may ask you.
If you are confused about your rights, the experienced Columbus, Ohio criminal defense attorneys of the criminal defense law firm Luftman, Heck & Associates are available to answer any questions you may have on this or any other topic related to criminal law in Ohio at any time at (614) 500-3836.
Always Comply with Lawful Commands
Under Ohio law, you are required to comply with any lawful command that you are given by a police officer, such as exiting your vehicle during a traffic stop. However, you are not required to talk to police and answer any questions they may ask you, particularly in the type of interrogations you have seen on television. Instead, as you likely have seen in these same movies or legal television shows, the United States Constitution gives you the right to remain silent when questioned by police. Contrary to popular belief, this right just does not apply once you have been arrested but also applies before you have been arrested and you are being asked questions by a police officer, such as during a traffic stop.
We always advise our clients not to speak with police officers without an attorney present because, as the Miranda warning police are required to read to you if you are being arrested says, anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. Having your conversations with the police in the presence of an experienced criminal defense attorney ensures that you do not accidentally say something that could later prove compromising to your case if you are arrested and/or charged with a crime.
Appearing Uncooperative Won’t Affect Whether You Are Charged
We are often asked whether refusing to speak with police will make the client seem like they have something to hide or will make them more likely to be arrested or face criminal charges. What many people do not realize is that police officers must have probable cause to believe you have committed a criminal offense to arrest you. By not talking to police, you can lessen the evidence that police officers have to show the necessary probable cause. In addition, prosecutors, not police, make the decisions as to what criminal charges a person ultimately will face. Therefore, even if a police officer appears to be upset that you are refusing to speak with him or answer his questions, whatever that police officer thinks of you ultimately has no bearing upon whether you will actually be charged with a crime. That is a decision that will be made by a prosecutor after reviewing the evidence which police and investigators have gathered.
Simply because you decided to exercise your constitutional rights and not speak to a police officer will have no bearing on whether you are ultimately charged with a crime. It could actually reduce the chances that you will be charged because you are less likely to say something that could be detrimental.
If Police Want to Question You, Contact Luftman, Heck & Associates
If you need an attorney for any criminal defense charges in the Columbus, Ohio area or if you are simply unsure of your legal rights when it comes to speaking with to police, contact the experienced criminal defense attorneys of Luftman, Heck & Associates for a free consultation today at (614) 500-3836.