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August 29, 2023

7 Common Mistakes You Can Make While Being Interrogated

By Hager & Schwartz, P.A.

September 25, 2023

Facing an interrogation by the police can be a stressful and overwhelming experience. By understanding these pitfalls, you can navigate interrogations more effectively and protect your rights and interests.

1. Talking Too Much

One of the most common mistakes people make during an interrogation is talking too much. When you’re nervous or anxious, you might feel the need to fill the silence with explanations, excuses, or information that can be self-incriminating. It’s essential to remember that you have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you, so it’s often in your best interest to keep your answers concise and to the point.

To avoid this mistake, take a moment to gather your thoughts before responding to questions. Think about your answers carefully, and if you’re unsure, it’s perfectly fine to say, "I need a moment to think about that." Remember that you don’t have to answer every question immediately.

2. Lying or Providing False Information

Lying during an interrogation is a grave mistake. Not only is it unethical, but it can also lead to serious legal consequences. If you get caught in a lie, it can damage your credibility and make it harder to establish trust with the interrogator. It’s essential to be truthful, even if the truth is uncomfortable or potentially incriminating.

If you’re uncomfortable answering a question truthfully, you can politely decline to answer or request legal counsel. It’s always better to consult with an attorney before providing information that could harm your case or position.

3. Volunteering Unnecessary Information

Another common mistake is volunteering information that wasn’t asked for. Interrogators often have specific questions they want answers to, and offering unsolicited information can work against you. It’s essential to stick to the questions asked and avoid going off-topic.

To avoid this mistake, listen carefully to the interrogator’s questions and answer only what’s asked. Don’t provide additional context or details unless it’s absolutely necessary to clarify your response.

4. Being Aggressive or Defensive

Responding to questions with aggression or defensiveness can be a mistake that makes you appear uncooperative or guilty. Interrogators are trained to assess your demeanor and behavior, and being hostile can raise suspicions. It’s crucial to remain calm, composed, and respectful during an interrogation.

If you feel that the interrogator is being unfair or aggressive, you can assert your rights politely. For example, you can say, "I want to cooperate, but I’d like to speak to my attorney before answering any more questions."

5. Not Knowing Your Rights

One of the most significant mistakes you can make during an interrogation is not knowing your rights. Whether you’re dealing with a law enforcement officer, an employer, or any other authority figure, it’s crucial to understand what rights you have in that specific situation.

For example, you have the right to remain silent, the right to an attorney, and the right to know the nature of the investigation. It’s essential to exercise these rights when necessary and to be aware of any other rights specific to your situation.

6. Failing to Ask for Clarification

Misunderstanding a question can lead to inaccurate or misleading answers. Interrogators may use complex language or vague phrasing to trip you up. If you don’t fully understand a question, don’t hesitate to ask for clarification. It’s better to seek clarity and provide an accurate response than to guess and potentially provide incorrect information.

7. Not Documenting the Interrogation

In some situations, it’s crucial to document the interrogation, especially if you believe your rights are being violated or if the interrogation could have legal implications. Failing to take notes or record the interaction can make it challenging to prove any misconduct or discrepancies later on.

If possible, politely ask if you can document the interrogation, either through notes or audio recording. Be sure to check local laws and regulations regarding recording conversations, as there may be legal restrictions.

In the end, interrogations can be daunting, but understanding and avoiding common mistakes can help you navigate them more effectively. Remember to stay calm, be truthful, and exercise your rights when necessary. By following these guidelines, you can protect your rights, freedom, and future.

If you find yourself in need of legal representation during an interrogation or criminal investigation, contact Hager & Schwartz, P.A. for experienced and dedicated criminal defense attorneys.