Best Answer: Talking to police only after you have consulted with a good criminal defense attorney is usually the best course of action. Often, your attorney will advise you not to answer any questions at all. There may be circumstances in which speaking with police may be beneficial. But those circumstances are rather rare, and extreme caution should be exercised before agreeing to an interview (aka interrogation) with police.
What if I am innocent?
A very good defense lawyer once said, “Don’t talk. Especially if you are innocent.”
The Miranda warnings require police to inform a suspect that anything they say “can and will be used against you.” Most often, police are not specifically looking for information that will clear you of all suspicion. Rather, they are looking for the guilty person and working to build a case that will result in a conviction.
If you have been detained by police for questioning, there is a very good chance that they view you as a suspect. If they view you as a suspect, they are likely looking for evidence to confirm their suspicions.
Whether you are innocent or guilty, having the assistance of a good attorney is critical.
Is this my chance to tell my side of the story?
No. A police interrogation is a chance for police to get you to tell them what they want to know.
Telling “your side of the story” is something that is best done with the competent assistance of a qualified defense attorney.
If you have a story that needs to be heard, your attorney can help you identify the best way and the best time to tell that story. Constitutional principles of due process guarantee you the right to be heard in a meaningful way.
The right forum for telling your side of the story may be in negotiations with a prosecutor, in a hearing with a judge, or during a full trial by jury. Telling your story in a police interrogation room with officers who want to convict you is almost never the best place to be heard and understood.
Only Your Name and Date of Birth
Utah law requires a person to answer only very limited questions from a police officer. Specifically, Utah Code section 76-8-301.5 requires a person to provide a police officer with their name and date of birth, but only on the following conditions:
- the personal is lawfully detained (“subjected to a stop” as defined in section 77-7-15);
- if the officer’s demand for name or date of birth is “reasonably related to the circumstances justifying the stop”; and
- giving name and date of birth will not “present a reasonable danger of self-incrimination in the commission of a crime.”
Under this section of the Utah Criminal Code, a person is guilty of a class B misdemeanor if the person fails to give their name or date of birth to a police officer when all necessary conditions of the statute have been met.
Answering questions beyond just your name and date of birth can create a substantial risk of giving police incriminating information – even if you are innocent.
Get Help from a Good Defense Attorney
It is rare that police will need an immediate answer from you. They may want an immediate answer. But other than giving them your name and date of birth, you are constitutionally entitled to get advice from your own attorney before answering any other questions, and to have your attorney present with you if you ultimately choose to answer police questions.
The Canyons Law Group criminal defense team is made up of experienced attorneys who are ready to help you. Talk to us today to see how we can help.