How cooperative must I be with the police?

In an encounter with a police officer, bear in mind that ordinarily the officer will not know you. The officer’s observations of your demeanor and conduct affect his or her assessment of your credibility – an important factor in deciding whether or not to arrest you. The quickest way to assure your arrest is to act in a belligerent or hostile manner toward the police officer. Even though the police are trained to deal with difficult situations, they are also human and by negative interaction, you can tip the scales against you.

Furthermore, in any interaction with police, remember it is always in your best interest to remain calm, civil, and courteous and to avoid the escalation of hostilities.

The police have a very difficult task in enforcing the laws, and their status as police officers gives them the right to stop and detain you if they believe a crime is about to occur or has occurred. Anytime a police officer attempts to stop you, you should be cooperative. However, you are not required to answer police questions if you are suspected of a crime. By resisting or fleeing a police officer, you are committing additional crimes, which may lead to a forceful apprehension or even the use of deadly force against you. If you are polite and well mannered, you are less likely to be injured, restrained further, or have additional criminal charges filed against you. You should always be quiet and avoid talking to anyone other than your attorney. Small talk with other people in the jail may come back to haunt you later.