Most people are unaware of their rights when responding to questions by police. Considering this, it is vitally important to understand the requirements for answering police questions in New Jersey. The following explores various scenarios in which you may be asked to answer questions by a law enforcement officer, including if you are stopped at the side of the road, under investigation, or if you have been arrested.
Traffic Stop, Do I Have to Answer Police Questions in NJ?
Police are typically permitted to stop your car if they have reasonable suspicion to believe that you have violated a traffic law or committed any other criminal offense. You are required to produce your driver’s license, car registration, and insurance information upon request. Beyond that, you are not generally required to answer any questions from an officer throughout the traffic stop. It is a good idea to be polite and cooperative with police during a stop, but you are entitled to exercise your right to remain silent and should always do so if you are arrested.
Overall, you do not have to provide consent for a search of your vehicle. Police can search your car if you provide them with your consent. Officers can also search your car if they have a warrant or under certain other circumstances, including if they see drugs, a gun or other weapons, or evidence of a crime in plain sight.
Can I Refuse to Respond to a Request for a Breath Test?
In New Jersey, police are permitted to ask you to complete a breath test to determine the level of alcohol in your blood if they suspect you of driving under the influence. If you refuse to take a breath test, you can be charged with refusal to submit to a breath test and face serious consequences. Administering the test includes the officer providing an explanation of the test and their request that you verbally state that you understand their instructions. Police are not required to Mirandize you before this process takes place and you may be arrested for refusing a breathalyzer test in New Jersey.
Are You Required to Speak to Officers at the Police Station in New Jersey?
If you are suspected of committing a crime, the police may ask that you come down to the police station and answer questions for them. You are entitled to ask that an attorney be present and to ask whether you are being detained or arrested. If you are not, you do not have to go to the station in the first place. The police will likely tell you that your cooperation with make things better for you, but it is your choice whether to submit to police questioning. It is a natural impulse to want to explain yourself or talk your way out of the situation, but speaking to the police can often have unintended consequences, and police are trained to use clever tactics to trip you up. Speak with an attorney beforehand or have your attorney accompany you to the station to ensure your interests are fully protected.
There are also drawbacks of refusing to cooperate with police in some situations. It is never a good idea to resist arrest, lie to police about yourself or someone else, or attempt to conceal or destroy evidence, as this can lead to criminal charges such as hindering apprehension, resisting arrest, or obstruction of law.
Do I Have to Answer Police Questions After Being Arrested in NJ?
In situations where you have been arrested for a crime or taken into police custody, this is a critical period to refuse to answer questions from a police officer. You cannot be forced to give testimony against yourself that can be used in court. If you have been arrested or Mirandized, you can simply state that you are invoking your right to remain silent and also ask for a lawyer. Officers are always looking to cut through your story and get to the truth. Remember, anything you say can be used against you. This becomes vital if you ultimately face criminal charges.
Jersey City Attorney for Those Facing Charges After Police Asked Questions
If you have been charged with a crime after being pulled over, under investigation, or otherwise interacting with police officers, we encourage you to seek legal counsel. Our knowledgeable criminal defense lawyers can assist you with understanding what happens next, your options, and we can help aggressively defend you against any criminal charges in municipal or superior court. We have extensive experience defending clients charged in Hoboken, Jersey City, Bayonne, Union City, Secaucus, Kearny, Weehawken, and throughout Hudson County, New Jersey. Our attorneys can also assist you with any upcoming police questioning or an ongoing criminal investigation. Contact us at (201) 793-8018 for a free initial consultation now or reach out online to arrange an appointment at our local Jersey City office.