The Fifth Amendment gives you have the right to remain silent.[1] That means you do not have to talk to the police.

If you are in public
If an officer approaches you, you do not need to answer questions about what you are doing, where you are going, or why you do not want to talk to the officer.

Ask the officer if you are free to leave. If the officer says you are, you can leave.[2] If you are not, try to remain calm. The information below will help you navigate the situation.

Note: In Arizona, if an officer asks you for your name, it is a misdemeanor if you do not tell it to him or her.[3]You do not need to answer other questions about what you are doing, where you are going, or why you do not want to talk to the officer.

An officer may ask you for permission to search you or your belongings. You can tell the officer “no.” This is important because if you give the officer permission, he or she does not need reasonable suspicion or probable cause – explained in the sections below – to search you.[4]

If you are arrested

If you are arrested, the police should read you your rights. However, the police are only required to read you your rights prior to questioning you.  If the officer does not ask you any questions, he does not have to read you your rights, your Miranda warnings. Even if the police read you these rights, you do not have to talk to them. It is important to directly tell the officer that you do not want to talk to him or her and that you want a lawyer before you answer any questions.

  • The fact that you did not talk to police cannot be used against you in court.
  • A judge cannot find you guilty or punish you because you did not talk to the police.
  • Talking to the police will not reduce your chances of jail time. Usually, police have already decided whether someone is going to jail before the police even try  talking to them. In fact, there have been times when police were not going to take someone to jail, but after the person talked to police, the police changed their mind.
  • Ignorance of the law is no excuse. Talking to the police without a lawyer is very risky. You might say something without knowing that it hurts you. For example, not knowing something is against the law is not an excuse.

[1]U.S. Const. Amend. V. “No person shall . . . be compelled in any criminal caseto be a witness against himself.”

[2] UnitedStates v. Mendenhall, 446 U.S. 544, 545 (1980).

[3]A.R.S. 13-2412; A.R.S. 28-1595.

[4] Schnecklothv. Bustamonte, 412 U.S. 218 (1973); State v. Davolt, 207 Ariz. 191, 202(2004) (citing State v. Castaneda, 150 Ariz. 382, 389 (1986)).