Protecting your rights after an arrest is essential. Once you give up a right, it can complicate your ability to present a solid defense in court.
One of the most important rights you have is the right to remain silent. Afforded to you in the U.S. Constitution, this right helps protect you from providing the prosecution with evidence against you.
How it works
Your right to remain silent is always active. But officers cannot hold anything you say against you until placing you under arrest and letting you know your rights. At that point, keeping your mouth shut becomes imperative. You should not say anything except to provide your name and let officers know you are exercising the right.
You do not have to say anything in an interrogation. You can reassert that you wish to assert your right, but you do not have to answer questions or engage in conversation with officers. This does not mean they cannot continue to try to get you to talk by asking questions. But they cannot threaten you or coerce you into giving up your right. If you ask for an attorney, they have to stop questioning you until your lawyer arrives.
Make sure that even if you choose not to answer questions that anything you do say is truthful. Lying to an officer is illegal and could land you in more trouble. It is better to say nothing at all than to lie. Generally, providing your name is fine. If the officer asks for documents, such as your driver’s license, you can also hand that over.