When a Louisiana police officer suspects you of having committed a crime, he or she may begin to ask you questions. Typically, these questions take place as the officer tries to gain more information about the situation in efforts to determine whether to take you into custody. Some of these questions may seem harmless or unrelated to the event, but officers are always looking for evidence in any question.
Understandably, you may have many concerns about how you should answer these questions, especially if seemingly unrelated questions could still land you in a tough spot. In reality, the best way to answer a police officer's questions is not to answer them at all. By choosing to remain silent, you do not give the officer the opportunity to gather evidence from your statements.
Your right to remain silent
You may think that not answering an officer's questions will only land you in more trouble. However, your right to remain silent is protected by the U.S. Constitution. Even if the police officer involved in your situation does not inform you of this right, you still have it. Of course, if an officer asks you your name or requests identification, you have an obligation to provide that information. However, you do not have an obligation to answer almost all other questions.
Remaining silent correctly
Though you do not want to answer the officer's questions and are choosing to invoke your Fifth Amendment right, it is best not to just stare blankly at the officer when he or she asks questions. Instead, you may want to clearly indicate that you choose to exercise your right to remain silent. Some statements you could make to get that point across include the following:
- I invoke my Miranda right to remain silent.
- I only want to speak to my attorney.
- I want to remain silent.
- I want to speak to my attorney first.
- I am exercising my right to remain silent.
Of course, you do not have to use only one of these examples. As long as you express your wishes to remain silent in a way that a reasonable officer would understand, you should have the ability to remain silent. In this situation, it is also important to avoid ambiguity like saying you "might" want to remain silent or that you "plan" to remain silent.
Facing an arrest
Still, even if you invoke your right to remain silent, it does not necessarily mean that an officer will not find other probable cause to take you into custody. If this happens, you may also want to invoke your right to an attorney.