If I Am Not Under Arrest, Do I Have To Answer A Police Officer's Questions?

By: LawInfo
No. Unless you are placed under arrest you are free to leave at any time. However, if a police officer stops you while you are walking, and asks you for identification, it is probably in your best interest to provide such information. The courts have allowed police officers to detain people for extended periods of time in an effort to determine the identity of the individual.

EXAMPLE: Tommy is walking down the street and approached by Officer Doright. Officer Doright begins to question Tommy about a bank robbery that happened a few days ago. The conversation looks like this:

Officer Doright: Hey, excuse me, I would like to ask you a few questions.

Tommy: um, ok, what is this about?

Officer Doright: I`m investigating a robbery that happened a few days ago, I thought you might be able to give me some information.

Tommy: I just got back in town today from Europe, I really don`t think that I can help.

Officer Doright You just got back, that`s interesting, you fit the description of the robber that the bank teller provided.

Tommy: Excuse me Officer, am I under arrest?

Officer Doright: Umm, well no, but if you have something to say, I promise to help you out.

Tommy: No thanks Officer, you have a nice day. Tommy then continues with his walk home from the airport.

The information on this page is meant to provide a general overview of the law. The laws in your state and/or city may deviate significantly from those described here. If you have specific questions related to your situation you should speak with a local attorney.

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