The Police Have Contacted Me and Asked Me to Come Down to the Station. Do I Have to Go? Should I Go?
People are frequently asked into police stations for a talk or "to assist with investigations," and are informed that they are "free to leave at any time" and that "there's nothing to worry about." Officers may do this for a variety of reasons.
The Police and Criminal Evidence Act gives cops the authority to make arrests. However, in order to make an arrest in these circumstances (i.e. after an alleged crime has been committed), they must have reasonable grounds to believe the person was involved in the crime. If the officer does not have that suspicion, their only option is to invite you in for a casual conversation.
In addition to suspicion, the statute states that an officer may only make an arrest if it is "necessary." To establish whether it is, police must meet one of several conditions. One example is when the officer needed to make an arrest in order to get the person's name and address. Obviously, if an officer phones your house and asks you to come into the police station, they already know who you are, so an arrest isn't necessary. Nonetheless, they may still assume you committed the crime.
Even if you're not being investigated for a crime, you have the freedom to refuse to answer police questions. This holds true whether an officer approaches you on the street, summons you to the station for questioning, or arrests you. Under the Fifth Amendment, you have the right to remain silent, and refusing to answer a cop only rarely results in criminal culpability.
You should not go to the police station for an interview unless you have consulted with a lawyer. If you're unsure whether answering questions is in your best interests, consult an experienced lawyer. Depending on the circumstances, your lawyer may advise you to refuse to answer any police questions.
If you are not a suspect and can safely answer the officer's questions without compromising yourself, your criminal investigation lawyer may arrange for you to speak with the police - as long as your lawyer is there.
You are not obligated to go with an officer if they contact you regarding an interview. You should not, in fact. After speaking with an attorney, you should respond that you are willing to comply. Request the officer's name and phone number, and inform them that you and your lawyer will contact them. This response can irritate an officer. They might try to frighten you by saying things like "it'll get worse if you don't cooperate," or "we'll take you down to the station." Remind the police, politely but firmly, that you are willing to cooperate after speaking with an attorney.
People often agree to go to the police station to answer questions because they are afraid of being detained. Nobody wants their name on a list of people who have been arrested. This is not, however, a good justification to put yourself in a potentially damning situation.
If you refuse to answer questions at the police station and the officer chooses to arrest you, you should cooperate. Do not argue, battle, or flee. The police may try to question you again after you have been arrested and put into jail. "I am exercising my right to remain silent," you should say straight now. "I need a lawyer." After you have exercised your right to an attorney following an arrest, the officer is supposed to stop questioning you until you have retained legal counsel.
When the police have a warrant out for someone's arrest, they may ask to meet with them. Sometimes they have enough evidence to arrest someone and all they need is for them to meet with them so they can be properly arrested. In other circumstances, the police lack sufficient evidence to charge someone, and they rely on the individual to tell them something that will allow them to arrest them.
If the cops want to talk to you, you should get legal assistance before meeting with them. If you meet with the police and they inform you that you are being detained or arrested, tell them you want to consult with a lawyer right away. Before the police question you or attempt to collect a statement from you, you have the right to speak with an attorney.