For most of us, what we know about police interrogations comes from movies and TV shows. Unfortunately, these depictions are not bound by accuracy or reality, and so they can often be misleading. As such, if you find yourself in a real-life police interrogation situation, it is important you understand the reality behind your rights regarding what you can and should say. The best thing to do is to exercise your right to remain silent until you can contact a skilled Philadelphia criminal defense lawyer like those at The Law Offices of Lloyd Long, who can appear by your side and advise you on whether or not you should answer some or all of the questions posed. Below, we explain how police interrogations work and how we can assist you in protecting your rights during such an interrogation and beyond.
Can You Refuse to Talk to the Police in Pennsylvania?
Under both the U.S. and state constitutions, you always have the right to remain silent in the face of police questioning. The officers may try to lull you into a false sense of security by saying that you are not a suspect and they are only looking for your help in solving a case. However, just because you are not currently a suspect does not mean you cannot become one if you say the wrong thing, which is why you should not speak to the police until you have consulted with an experienced Delaware County criminal defense attorney like those on the team at The Law Offices of Lloyd Long. Even after you are arrested, you can refuse to talk to the police except to provide them with basic biographic information like your name. Once your attorney is by your side, we can advise you about whether it might be in your interest to answer some of the questions, or to simply remain silent.
How Long Are Police Allowed to Interrogate You in Pennsylvania?
An interrogation may last for many hours if you choose not to invoke your right to remain silent and if your attorney believes it may be beneficial under the circumstances for you to provide as much detail as possible to the officers. In other circumstances, your attorney may advise you to answer only a few questions or not any at all. Typically, the police can only detain you for a few hours unless they place you under arrest, at which point they will have to let you leave whether you have answered their questions or not. Only in extenuating circumstances like a public safety emergency can you be held without charges for longer than that. If the police are holding you without charges, reach out to one of our skilled Philadelphia criminal defense attorneys as soon as possible so that we can be sure your constitutional rights against unlawful detainment are being respected. For more information about arrest procedures that police have to follow in Pennsylvania, speak with our criminal defense lawyers.
Can the Police Touch You During an Interrogation in Pennsylvania?
The police are never permitted to touch you except in specifics situations that are part of the standard practice arrest process: placing you in handcuffs, conducting a custodial search, escorting you in and out of the car and back and forth from the holding cell, etc. Unless you use force first, the police are not permitted to use force as part of their interrogations, and they may not use any more force than necessary to conduct the above-mentioned procedures like a search. Even if their conduct is not physically forceful, they should refrain from touching you in any way that makes you uncomfortable or to even imply that they might harm you as a way to coerce you to say something. You are also within your rights to ask for an officer of the same sex to search you. If you believe you were touched in a harmful or inappropriate way by the police at any time, let your lawyer know right away so we can make the proper reports to show that they have violated your rights during a criminal investigation in Philadelphia.
Can Police Record an Interrogation Without Permission in Pennsylvania?
Although it is not mandated uniformly throughout the state, most counties, including Philadelphia and Allegheny, have policies that require their officers to record interrogations. However, Pennsylvania’s eavesdropping statute requires consent by both parties for an interrogation to take place, meaning that the officers must ask for your permission in order to record the interrogation. If you refuse to consent, they cannot record the conversation, despite any departmental policy or directive in place. Generally speaking, however, it would be unwise of you not to allow the officers to record the interrogation, as they could then lie later about what was said and what tactics they used and you would have no way of disputing this. As always, it is best to consult with a skilled Philadelphia criminal defense attorney before making a decision about whether to grant permission for an interrogation to be recorded and how to know if you are under a criminal investigation in Philadelphia.
What Happens after a Police Interrogation in Pennsylvania?
If you are not arrested, you can leave and go home as soon as the interrogation is over, or whenever you no longer wish to speak to the officers. If you were placed under arrest prior to (or as a result of) the interrogation, you will go through the booking process and be held in the station’s holding cell for up to 48 hours until your preliminary arraignment and bail hearing can be held. As such, it is absolutely vital that you quickly contact a skilled criminal defense attorney as soon as possible if have not already, so that we can represent you at these crucial early events. If the police interrogated you without employing proper procedures, such as reading your Miranda rights before a custodial interrogation, we can file a motion to have anything you said excluded from being used against you in the case.
If You Are Facing a Police Interrogation in Pennsylvania, Call Our Philadelphia Criminal Defense Attorneys Today
You never have to speak to the police if you do not want to, and you should never do so without first reaching out to a battle-tested Philadelphia criminal defense attorney like those at The Law Offices of Lloyd Long who can advise you on whether you should speak to them and what to say if so. We will make sure that your rights and protected and that you are not taken advantage of by the officers. For a free consultation, call us at (215) 302-0171.