Police Interrogations FAQ

If you are being questioned by the police, it is important that you understand what your rights are and what you should not disclose.
Officers have been known to use numerous methods to solve a crime—don’t be a victim to their tactics.
Our experienced and highly skilled Sonoma County criminal defense lawyers answer your most frequently asked questions about police interrogations and questioning.  Learning more now can protect you in the future.
When do police officers need a warrant to arrest someone?
Police need probable cause in order to arrest someone without a warrant. For non-serious offenses, the police must obtain a search warrant if the person is at home and there is reasonable belief that the accused will destroy evidence or become a threat to the public.
What are the Criteria for Obtaining California Search Warrants?
A variety of criteria will justify the issuance of a search warrant in California.  Here are a few examples of the types of grounds on which a California search warrant may be issued:

  • If the property sought was allegedly stolen
  • If the property sought was allegedly used as a means to commit a felony
  • if the property sought is evidence of the fact that a felony has occurred or that a particular person has committed a felony
  • If the sought property is in possession of someone who intends to use it to commit a crime or in the possession of another to whom he/she may have delivered it for the purpose of concealing it or keeping it from being discovered
  • If the property sought reveals child pornography
  • If an arrest warrant has already issued.
  • The police cannot ask a judge to issue a warrant to be written up for mere hunches. The warrant must clearly establish what crime was committed and the person that committed the crime. The description in the warrant application or the affidavit must contain specific language.

These affidavits may be written or oral, and presented in person, via the telephone, by fax, or even e-mail. They also must contain the facts that establish the grounds for the application or the probable cause for believing that they exist. Mere hunches will not suffice and if we establish this then the warrant may be quashed and the case later dismissed.
Do I have to answer questions if the police randomly stop me?
Police can stop an individual if they have reason to believe that the individual has been involved with a crime, however, that person does not have to answer any questions asked.
Under the Fifth Amendment, you have the right against self-incrimination. The only thing you are required to disclose by law is your name. If an officer begins to question you about a crime, you do not have to respond beyond telling them your name.
Do the police have to give a Miranda warning when arresting an individual?
There is a common misconception that if the police do not recite to you the Miranda warnings during your detention or arrest before questioning, you can have your case dismissed. The Miranda Rights are simply a reminder of an individual’s rights when dealing with law enforcement and the legal system. Not reciting them does not equate to a slip-up from the police worthy of a case dismissal.
If the police wish to use spoken or self-incriminating evidence during the trial, they must give Miranda warnings before questioning an individual. Additionally, any extra evidence that is acquired as a result of an interrogation without the Miranda warnings can also not be used in the trial.
I agreed to police questioning, can I still change my mind?
Yes. Within the Miranda warnings, it is stated that you have the right to stop an interrogation. Even if you have waived your right to remain silent already, at any time you can refuse to answer any more questions, request an attorney, and remain silent.
What kinds of tactics do police use when questioning someone?
The police cannot use certain physical or psychological tactics in order to get information during an interrogation. For example, they cannot torture, drug, or use inhumane tactics in order to get information. They also cannot make an individual think that they have no other choice than to tell the police what they want to hear.
Even though there are some tactics that are not used by the police, other methods, such as lying and trickery, are used regularly. That is why it is imperative to consult with an experienced and highly skilled criminal defense attorney and remain silent until you do so.
Typically, officers use the Reid Technique to extract information or get confessions.
The Reid Technique is conducted through three main concepts:
Isolation. Officers use the feeling of being alone to their advantage. They will separate a suspect from their family, friends, and support. Interrogation rooms will also often have no windows in order to isolate the suspect from everyone.
Maximization. Also known as the “bad cop” portion, maximization usually starts with the officer telling the suspect that he or she is guilty. If the suspect claims to be innocent, the officer will disregard this and continue to tell them they are guilty. The officer may even construct a story for how and why the crimes were committed.  This is done to have you elicit information freely.  Don’t fall for this!
Minimization.   When the suspect has heard that they will not be found innocent, the “good cop” portion begins. The officer tells the client that they understand and if the suspect confesses they might feel better or even be let go or offered a lesser charge. However, they could also claim that if the suspect does not confess, they will remain in custody for a long time.
Do the police need my permission to collect hair or blood?
Unfortunately, self-incriminating evidence does not extend to bodily samples.   We shed our DNA material without even realizing it and the police have a right to collect it:
Therefore, the police do not need your permission to take hair or blood samples and use them as evidence in a case if they are found or left in a public place or left voluntarily, unintentionally, i.e. on a soda can at the police station.  But what is more revealing is the recent US Supreme Court decision which held that you have more of right in the protection of your cell phone than your own DNA.  A cell phone search requires a warrant now. 
Again, click onto the article above for more information or give us a Call:  Sonoma County, Santa Rosa location: (707) 571-8600. 
Marin County, San Rafael location: (415) 492-4507 24/7 OUR OPERATORS will contact you to one of our experienced and highly skilled lawyers.
Have more questions? Contact Fiumara & Milligan Law, P.C. today for more answers.

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