• North Carolina Criminal Law | Why You Should NOT Talk To the Police
  • September 25, 2012
  • Law Firm: Matheson Law Office PLLC - Raleigh Office
  • When someone is stopped during a North Carolina Traffic Stop or in any other encounter where the police are investigating that person, many things are taking place that the Defendant is likely unaware of. As a Raleigh DWI Attorney and Raleigh Criminal Defense Lawyer, I have had many clients talk with me about their interaction with the police. In many of these cases, a common theme emerges about what the Police SAY and what they DO. For that reason, I decided to write an article about exactly what is transpiring during a police stop and why it is so important to request a Raleigh Criminal Lawyer, or Criminal Lawyer in your area as soon as possible.

    One of the things I hear most often from my clients is how nice the Police Officer is. I have no doubt their experience with the Police was very pleasant. I have several acquaintances who are Police Officers and know them to be genuinely good people. That being said, Police have a job to do, and that job consists of investigating possible criminal activity, and when appropriate citing or arresting individual; to that end, their focus is on their job. In addition to that, regardless of what some may perceive, Police Officers are people like you and I, they want to make their interaction with the public as easy and pleasant as possible. If they can take steps to encourage a person they are investigating to cooperate and be upfront with them, they will take those steps.

    I explain all of this for the sole reason to give some reason why, Police will do what they need to do in order to do their job. If that means bending the truth, or even lying about certain things to get an admission or consent to search, they will. Now, certainly there are some things the Police can not and will not lie about. They should never tell you that you have to consent to a search when you don't or to say they have evidence that they don't. But it certainly doesn't prevent them from implying certain things and letting the Defendant jump to their own conclusions.

    On many occasions, I have had clients facing a Wake County DWI Charge tell me that the Police Officer told them that they were probably okay to drive but just needed to perform some tests to be sure. Or how they were probably going to let the Defendant go but wanted them to complete one more test. The same goes for Police investigating someone for Possession of Marijuana NC or some other drug charge; the Police Officer will tell them that they know they have drugs and should just tell them where it is. In fact, even for standard traffic stops the Police Officer's questions are designed to elicit admissions of guilt of the original offense and could potentially lead to admissions of other damning evidence.

    For these reasons, a person should NEVER answer any questions from the Police and should NEVER consent to any search of their vehicle, residence or person. I realize that interacting with the Police can be intimidating, as someone who had MANY traffic stops as a young person, I know exactly what it's like. But, the reality is, you are not required to answer their questions. You are only obligated to pull over if being stopped, provide your driver's license and registration if asked, and to exit the vehicle for safety reasons. Also, there is what is known as a Terry Stop and Frisk, at which point the Officer can temporarily detain you and pat down the outer clothing of the person if they Police Officer 'reasonably believes them to be armed.' Beyond that, you do not have to answer questions about how fast you were going, if you had been drinking, where you were coming from, etc.

    Likewise, you are not required to consent to a search of your person, vehicle or residence. Now, that's not to say that a search may not happen if you don't consent, but at least you are forcing the State to meet the standard of proof of Probable Cause to obtain a Search Warrant. The same thing goes for not answering their questions and refusing their tests. It's no guarantee that you won't still be cited and/or arrested for a North Carolina Criminal Law, but at least you aren't making it easier for them.

    Obviously some are concerned that by not cooperating, the Police Officer may give them a hard time, and there's no guarantee that that won't happen. The best thing that can be done is to be polite, be respectful, but don't answer any questions and don't consent to any searches. That alone will assist whichever Criminal Defense Lawyers Raleigh you decide to hire.

    If you find yourself facing criminal, traffic or North Carolina DUI Charges, contact a local defense lawyer in your area.

    Disclaimer - Information and advice offered in this article is for informational and educational purposes only and is specific to North Carolina law. The viewing, receipt and/or exchange of information from this article does not constitute an Attorney-Client Relationship. For assistance regarding your particular legal question speak with an Attorney practicing in the field from which your questions derives.