The State of Colorado has “Stop and Identify” laws that require you to show your ID to the police when they pull you over for a traffic violation. The rule also applies when you’re detained on a reasonable belief of being engaged in criminal activities. Failing to identify yourself to a law enforcement officer is considered a misdemeanor and may attract penalties if convicted.
However, you may be wondering if the same charges apply when you refuse to answer questions from a Colorado law enforcement officer. Contact criminal defense lawyers in Colorado to understand your legal rights and options.
What Kind of Law Enforcement Officers Can Question Me?
Various law enforcement officers and government representatives could question you. These include:
- The Department of Homeland of Homeland Security, including Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement
- The FBI and other federal agents
- Joint Terrorism Task Force members
- State and local police officers
- Naval Criminal Investigative Service
- Drug Enforcement Administration
You’re not legally required to answer any questions by law enforcement officers or agencies, and you can exercise your right to remain silent. You also have the right to consult misdemeanor defense lawyers in Colorado Springs.
What Are My Rights Against Law Enforcement Officers?
As a citizen of the United States, you have constitutional rights, one of which is to remain silent as stipulated in the Fifth Amendment. That means you have the right not to answer questions asked by law enforcement officers or government agents.
Under the Fourth Amendment, government officials are restricted from entering and searching your home and workplace. While the First Amendment upholds your right to speak freely and advocate for social change, the Department of Homeland Security may target you if you’re a non-citizen based on your political involvement.
When Honesty is Legally Not the Best Policy
When the police or other government officials start questioning you, you may have an urgent emotional need to cooperate. Experienced misdemeanor defense lawyers in Colorado Springs will tell you that the best thing to do is suppress that first instinct in favor of a more thoughtful and reasoned approach.
What Should I Do When a Police or Agent Comes to My Door?
Even if FBI agents show up at your door, resist the urge to answer any questions but let the agent know that you don’t wish to speak to them without your Colorado Springs criminal defense lawyer. While saying this, consider stepping out of your house or office. Close the door behind you so that the inside is not visible.
Get their contact information, inform them that your attorney will contact them, and step back inside. This response is enough for the officers to stop questioning you. Also, remember to do the following:
- Avoid getting into an argument with the officers
- Remain calm and in control of what you say
- Don’t run
- Keep your hands where the officers can see them
- Don’t bad-mouth an officer
- Don’t touch an officer
- Don’t resist arrest even if you believe you are innocent
Note down the reason the officers contacted you and pass this information on to your lawyer. Remember that anything you say, no matter how insignificant it seems to you, may be used against you.
What If I’m Threatened with a Grand Jury Subpoena For Not Answering Questions?
Even when threatened with a subpoena by a law enforcement officer, you still don’t have to answer their questions upfront. Call your Colorado Springs misdemeanor defense attorney for advice if the officer threatens or succeeds in getting you a subpoena.
If you receive a subpoena, ensure you follow its direction about when and where to report to the court. Keep asserting your right to remain silent to avoid saying anything that may be used against you in your case.
Can I Talk to A Lawyer Before Answering Questions?
You may feel that you have nothing to hide and hence the need to cooperate, but this belief could land you in federal prison. On the contrary, the officers will perceive you to be aware of your rights and cautious if you first obtain legal advice before answering their questions.
In any case, police officers must first consult counsel when under investigation for anything. That’s because they know the consequences of not consulting. The same case applies to you; asking for a lawyer before answering any questions from the police is not because you’re uncooperative but because you’re aware of the danger of proceeding without legal counsel.
What If I Answer an Officer’s Questions Anyway?
Anything you say can be used against you and others involved in your case. Answering questions under intimidation or threats may cause you to lie to a government official, which is a crime.
For example, you may end up giving a false name, which under Colorado law is a Class 2 misdemeanor that could earn you the following:
- A maximum of 120 days in jail
- A maximum of $750 in fines or both
If the false information you give:
- Potentially hinders the law enforcers from making an arrest,
- hinders them from continuing with their criminal case investigation,
You could be charged with a Class 6 felony.
The penalties include:
- Between 12 and 18 months in a state prison
- Between $1,000 and $100,000 in fines or both
So, it’s in your best interest to remain silent until you consult your lawyer for legal guidance. Even if you have already answered some questions, you can refuse to answer any more questions.
Learn Your Legal Options When Your Constitutional Rights Are Violated
The Constitution in the United States and the Colorado Constitution protect many of your fundamental rights. When approached by law enforcement officers, you should identify yourself if they demand it, as failure to do so equates to a misdemeanor. Nonetheless, you can exercise your right to remain silent until you consult your misdemeanor defense attorney in Colorado.
Our firm has experienced defense lawyers who can provide the legal counsel and representation you need. If you are facing criminal charges, talk to us as soon as possible. The sooner we investigate your case, the better the chances of creating a solid defense for you for the best possible outcome. Contact us to schedule a FREE in-depth case evaluation.