As a Chicago civil rights and police brutality attorney, I’ve seen the ways that police violate citizens’ rights. Police misconduct is more than excessive force. Many times it comes in the form of false arrest and malicious prosecution and wrongful conviction. I’ve represented people who thought they were doing the right thing by talking to the police to explain what happened and it ended up working against them. Because of this I always tell people the best thing you can say to the police is that you don’t want to talk to them without a lawyer present.

The constitution allows for citizens to not make incriminating statements. That means you don’t have to tell the police things that can lead to your arrest and prosecution. You should always invoke your right to remain silent and ask for an attorney if arrested. If you are not arrested and the police want to talk to you, you should tell the police that you will not speak to them without an attorney. The police have a job to do and that is to investigate crimes, make arrests and keep the public safe. We want them to do their job. However, you also have job and that is to ensure that if the police and the government want to deprive you of your freedom and send you to jail that they do it without your help. Arm yourself with knowledge and know how to invoke your rights. There is a free resource that I’ve created that helps citizens to know what to say in common police interactions.

People have a tendency to want to talk to the police because they think they can talk their way out of trouble or because they have nothing to hide they want to explain to the police why they are innocent. In my experience, I’ve seen both of these go wrong. First, know this, you cannot outtalk the police. Police officers are trained to investigate crimes and how to interrogate people to get the information they need. They are not in the business of having casual conversations. If the police are talking to you they either believe you are involved in a crime or know something about a crime. You do yourself no favors by thinking you can talk to them to throw them off your trail. It won’t work.

Trying to prove your innocence is just as dangerous. You might say something that the police could misconstrue and take it as another reason to arrest you. Therefore, the best thing to do is to remain silent and get a lawyer. If the police had enough evidence to arrest you they wouldn’t need to talk to you. So don’t make their job easier by giving them the information they need to connect the dots.

In the police misconduct and civil rights lawsuits that I’ve handled, I’ve seen people cause real damage to their civil rights lawsuit because of the things they said to the police. Even though the police violated their rights, statements that were made during the arrest were later used by the police officer and their attorneys as a defense for why they took their actions. Don’t let this happen to you.

Take a look at the graphic below that provides a list of some of things you should never say to the police.

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