Learning that a law enforcement officer wants to question you may be a frightening and stressful situation. Whether it is a Missouri state police officer or a federal agent who contacts you, it may seem like you have no choice but to cooperate and answer questions. However, it is important to understand that the law does not require you to participate in police questioning. You have the right to stay silent, and you also have the right to request the presence of your attorney during the questioning.
The American Civil Liberties Union reiterates that you have a constitutional right to remain silent during questioning from local or state police officers and federal agents. Even if you get arrested or put in jail, you still have the right to decline to answer questions. One exception to this rule involves providing relevant information if you get pulled over while driving. If an officer requests your vehicle’s registration, proof of insurance and/or driver’s license, you must provide them. You do not have to answer any questions.
The ACLU states that if you do choose to participate in questioning, law enforcement officers may keep track of everything you say and use it in the event of an arrest or prosecution. It is important to note that is it often a crime to lie to a law enforcement officer or government official. Choosing to exercise your right to remain silent does not carry the same potential criminal punishments as actively lying.
This general information about legal rights is intended to educate and should not be taken as legal advice.