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Are quick questions from police without a lawyer present okay?

When you are under suspicion for a crime, law enforcement probably wants to talk to you at least once, maybe frequently. You may even get used to going in and out of the police station so much that you feel like it is a second home.

Likewise, you likely will develop a solid relationship with your lawyer. This person has no doubt told you to never answer questions without him or her present. But what about a quick question?

How alleged quick questions can occur

Maybe a detective knocks on your door one morning or calls you. The detective says something like this: "It will only be one minute. Just need to know something quick."

Or perhaps the police want you to come into the station for a few minutes only. Maybe you encounter a police officer by happenstance in your favorite bar, and he or she has a question.

Beware of such situations

The bottom line is that you should not answer any questions without an attorney present. In fact, if you have retained one and police know that, they should have no business trying to circumvent the attorney in order to get direct contact with you. This holds true even if you have not been charged or named as an official suspect. It also holds true no matter the alleged crime, whether it is a relatively serious white-collar offense such as money laundering or a low-key college student violation stemming from a prank gone wrong.

Once your attorney has told the authorities that all contact needs to go through him or her, law enforcement officers need to respect that. (Of course, they do not always.)

The questions can seem harmless

True, the questions can seem harmless. It could even cover ground you have gone over many times already ("I wanted to double-check you were home at 9:50 p.m.," for example). Still, do not answer such questions. Their purpose may be to lower your guard and get you to answer more questions.

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