Being approached by a police officer can be an intimidating experience. And for many people, the first instinct is to cooperate — even if it means heading down to the station to participate in an interrogation. A lot of people have the false notion that being cooperative with law enforcement will make them appear less guilty or allow them to prove their innocence.
However, talking to police officers can actually do more harm than good. When people give their statements, they are giving law enforcement the liberty to twist, change, or exaggerate their stories. These can then be used against them in court to convict them of a crime.
The best thing to do when being interrogated by the police is quite the opposite of being cooperative and participative. It’s exercising the basic Sixth Amendment rights granted to every U.S. citizen by the Constitution.
Sixth Amendment Rights Under the U.S. Constitution
Under the Sixth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, every person accused of a crime enjoys the following rights:
- Right to a public trial without unnecessary delay
- Right to a lawyer
- Right to an impartial jury
- Right to know who the accusers are and the nature of the charges and evidence against them
Which Sixth Amendment Right to Exercise When Being Interrogated by the Police
By virtue of their Sixth Amendment rights, anyone has the power to immediately terminate any police interrogation. All they have to do is politely say, “Officer, I understand that you are doing your job, but I don’t have anything to say to you and I want to exercise my Sixth Amendment right to an attorney. I will not be saying anything else until my attorney is present.”
After exercising their right to an attorney, they are under no more obligation to talk to the police. Law enforcement also has no discretion to resume the investigation until the accused’s legal counsel arrives.