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It is often a times difficult to recognize if you are under police interrogation, or the officer is just trying to determine your identify. An encounter with the police or other law enforcement officers (LEOs) could be intimidating and frightening. The reality is law enforcement officer will not, in most cases, approach you if they don’t have something to gain from their contact with you. It may be simply asking for information about the where about of a person you know and who they are investigating, or whether you’re an eye witness to an incident that occurred before the police arrived the scene.

Here is a list of things you should be aware of when dealing with police or other law enforcement officers to determine if you are under police interrogation, or may be the officer is simply trying to determine your identity:

Police Rights

The police have the authority to determine the identity of people within their jurisdiction when they are trying to prevent or solve crimes. Therefore, the police have the right to ask you for your biographical data such as your name, address, date of birth, or social security number. And the law required you provide truthful, accurate, and complete answers to these questions and to produce your identity card, driver’s license, or passport to the officer for verification.

People’s Rights

However, every individual accused of a criminal offense, including minor traffic code violations, has the right to remain silent along with the related right not to have to provide information that will incriminate him- or herself. The right of individuals against self-incrimination, particularly individuals in the United States, is protected by the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

When it Shifted to Interrogation

A police interrogation begins when the police shift their focus from asking biographical information to asking specific questions regarding the alleged crime. Some legal professionals believe this is where the line becomes blurred; however, I strongly believe it is where the line becomes more distinct.

Keep in mind that a police officer can move very swiftly from asking identification questions to interrogation. The officer’s shift may be either intentional or unintentional; there are no hard-and-fast rules to gauge this behavior. However, fortunately, I can give you a few clues that will help you determine when an officer has crossed over from identifying to interrogating you.

It is interrogation, particularly if you are a suspect or person of interest, when police ask questions such as:

·         Do you know what happened?

·         Where were you when this incident occurred?

·         Please tell us what you know about this incident.

·         Were you at the scene when the incident occurred?

And so on – the list is endless. The above sample questions are intended to obtain direct information about the circumstances surrounding the alleged crime being investigated. If a police officer asks you these or similar questions, there’s no doubt the officer is interrogating you.

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