You need to know your rights when interacting with the police. So, let’s look closer at the right to remain silent.

The right to remain silent is based on the Fifth Amendment, which says that no person “shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself.” This is also known as the right against self-incrimination.

You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you. Do you understand the rights I have just read to you?

When you are in custody or suspected of committing a crime, law enforcement must advise you of your right to remain silent and your right to an attorney.

If you are not being detained or arrested, you generally have no duty to answer any questions at all. If you are unsure if you have been arrested or detained, politely ask the police if you are free to leave.

Remember, you must actually invoke your right to remain silent. You do this by saying: “I invoke my right to remain silent” or “I am not going to answer any questions without talking to my lawyer first.” When asserting your right to remain silent, you should not offer any explanation or make any excuses for doing so.

You can waive your rights if you start a conversation with the police.

Finally, if you say anything to the police, it is critical that whatever you say is true. You should not present false documents such as a fake driver’s license. Any lie you tell may make your situation worse and lead to additional criminal charges.