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Why You Should Ask the Police "Am I Free to Go?"

Posted Monday, February 19, 2018 by Lizanne Padula.

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If you are having a run-in with the police, it is important to know your rights. Your rights always exist, whether you are under arrest, being detained, or free to go.

Generally speaking, you always have the right to remain silent, the right against unlawful search and seizure, and if you are detained by the police or placed under arrest, they must read you your Miranda Rights.

Why You Should Ask the Police “Am I Free to Go?”

You have the right to terminate an encounter with the police unless you are being detained or placed under arrest.

The police have no duty to tell you that you are free to go, so you need to ask directly. If you are being questioned by police we encourage you to ask the officer: “Am I free to go?”

• If the officer says “Yes,” then politely tell the officer to have a nice day and leave immediately. Do not run away. Remember that in general you do not have to answer questions about any incident or suspected crime that the police ask you. If you volunteer statements to the police, those statements can be used against you.

• If the office’s answer is ambiguous, or if she continues to ask questions, then you may ask again: “Am I being detained, or am I free to go?”

• If the officer’s answer is that you are not free to leave, then you are being detained. Being detained is not the same as being arrested, though an arrest could follow.

Know If You are Being Detained

It is important to know if you are being detained, because if so, while not under arrest yet you are considered “in police custody.” As such, the police have a duty to read you your Miranda Rights, which must be read before the policy may interrogate you or any suspect. If the Miranda Rights are not given or are otherwise violated, then incriminating statements made by you, including a confession, cannot generally be used against you in later criminal proceedings.

If you are being detained you do not have to answer police questions, you have the right against self-incrimination/the right to remain silent, and you have the right to have an attorney present during questioning. Exercise your right to an attorney. Even if you are not under arrest, you have the right to have an attorney present during and police questioning or interrogation. This helps to ensure that your rights are protected and that you do not give any information that will harm your defense or strengthen the prosecutor’s case against you.

Defending Against Criminal Charges in Washington State

Mounting a strong defense early-on helps to ensure the best outcome in your criminal case. Getting an attorney involved as soon as possible increases your odds of avoiding a conviction. If you are facing criminal charges, your life and freedom are on the line. Hiring the right attorney to defend you is critical. At Padula & Associates, LLC we understand what is at stake, and we will zealously defend you against any criminal charges filed against you.

When you hire our firm you will work directly with your attorney. You will not be pushed off to a case manager, left to wonder what is going on in your case.

Lizanne’s previous work as a Prosecutor gives her special insight into how the Prosecutor in your case operates. She knows the tactics the government uses when bringing criminal charges. Her experience affords her insider information that greatly benefits her ability to build a strong defense against any criminal charges you are facing. We invite you to learn more about Lizanne here.

The skilled attorneys at Padula & Associates, LLC can help you fight the charges that have been filed against you. We answer the phone 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We offer free consultations. Call us 24/7 at 425-883-3366 or contact us on the web to schedule your fee consultation today.

Our firm handles State and Federal criminal cases throughout Washington State, including King, Snohomish, Pierce, and Lewis Counties.