Person in handcuffs being pointed at by another person

Understanding Your Rights During Police Interviews: A Guide to Legal Protections

Russell Hebets Dec. 7, 2023

In any encounter with law enforcement, understanding your rights is crucial to ensuring fair treatment and protection under the law. When it comes to police interviews, individuals possess certain rights designed to safeguard them from self-incrimination and uphold their constitutional protections. This article explores the rights you have during police interviews, emphasizing your right to decline participation and other key legal safeguards.

Miranda Rights:

The cornerstone of an individual's rights during police interviews stems from the landmark Miranda v. Arizona case. The Miranda rights, named after this case, include the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney. These rights are read to individuals before a custodial interrogation, reminding them of their entitlement to withhold information that may incriminate them and to have legal representation. You can find more information about your Miranda rights here.

The Right to Remain Silent:

One of the fundamental rights individuals have when being interviewed by the police is the right to remain silent. This means that you are not obligated to answer any questions that may be posed during an interview. This right extends to both verbal and written statements, protecting individuals from self-incrimination.

It's crucial to explicitly invoke your right to remain silent. You can do so by stating, "I wish to remain silent," or a similar clear and unambiguous declaration. Once this right is asserted, law enforcement must cease questioning, providing a legal shield against self-incrimination.

The Right to an Attorney:

The right to an attorney is another vital protection during police interviews. If you are in custody or being interrogated, you have the right to have an attorney present during questioning. If you cannot afford one, the state is required to provide legal representation. Having an attorney present ensures that your rights are upheld and that you receive proper legal advice.

In some cases, individuals may choose to have an attorney present before any questioning occurs. This proactive approach can help prevent potential issues and ensure that legal counsel is available from the outset of the interview.

The Right to Decline Participation:

Individuals have the unequivocal right to decline participation in a police interview. While cooperation with law enforcement is generally encouraged, it is not mandatory. If you are being investigated for a crime, you should not participate in a police investigation without competent counsel. You can assert your right to remain silent and politely decline to answer questions without facing adverse consequences.

However, it's crucial to communicate your decision clearly and respectfully. A simple statement such as, "I choose not to answer any questions without my attorney present," can help establish your position without creating unnecessary conflict.

Remaining Calm and Composed:

Maintaining composure during a police interview is essential. Emotions may run high in such situations, but it's crucial to remember your rights and communicate them respectfully. Avoid confrontational behavior, as it can escalate the situation and potentially lead to legal complications.


Knowing your rights during police interviews empowers you to navigate these situations confidently and legally. The right to remain silent, the right to an attorney, and the right to decline participation are crucial safeguards that protect individuals from self-incrimination. By understanding and asserting these rights when necessary, individuals can ensure a fair and just process in any interaction with law enforcement.