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Schedule Your Free Consultation:
Toll Free: (888) JCLaw-10
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(443) 709-9999

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4 Common Myths About Talking to the Police in Maryland

by | Jan 6, 2024 | Criminal Defense, Legal Process

According to Maryland State Police statistics, law enforcement agencies across the state arrested over 127,000 people over the course of 2020. Any interaction with the police can be nerve-wracking, regardless of whether you’re in danger of being arrested or not, and this is especially true if you’re unsure of your rights. Understanding the boundaries of the law can help you navigate these situations confidence, all while protecting yourself from potential infringements by law enforcement.

However, myths and misconceptions often cloud understanding, leading to confusion and missed opportunities to safeguard your rights. It is important to clear the air and empower you with knowledge before you encounter the flashing blue lights. With that in mind, here are four common myths about speaking to the police in the state of Maryland:

Myth #1: You have to answer every question

Anyone who’s spent even an hour watching cop dramas on TV is no doubt familiar with the iconic phrase “You have a right to remain silent,” and while many of us have heard of the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution as laid out that way, we often overthink it, assuming that “it can’t be that simple.”

Contrary to popular belief, you really do have the right to remain silent when questioned by the police, and there’s no statute requiring you to answer their questions. The Fifth Amendment protects you against self-incrimination, and you can politely but firmly state your intention to exercise this right. Remember, remaining silent does not imply that you committed a crime; it simply protects your freedom from potentially using your own words against yourself.

Myth #2: You have to provide your ID to the police

In Maryland, you are not obligated to show identification unless you are driving (and then only after police pull you over) or police suspect you of a crime. While cooperating with a lawful investigation is advisable, you have the right to refuse to show ID without probable cause. Politely explain your understanding of your legal rights and avoid escalating the situation.

Myth #3: You have to let police search you or your belongings

Unless the police have a warrant or probable cause to suspect you of a crime, you can legally refuse consent to a search of yourself or your belongings. You have the right to ask if they have a warrant and politely decline any requests if they do not. Remember, a calm and respectful demeanor is key in such situations.

Myth #4: You cannot film police interactions

In Maryland, you have the right to record police interactions in public spaces as long as you are not interfering with their duties. This right ensures transparency and accountability and can serve as valuable evidence in case of misconduct. Just be mindful of your surroundings, and do not obstruct officers while filming.

Understanding your rights empowers you to navigate police interactions with confidence and clarity. Remember, remaining calm, respectful and assertive goes a long way in upholding your legal boundaries. If you feel your rights are being violated, do not hesitate to politely challenge them.

Questioned by the police in connection to a case? Contact a lawyer right away.

As we discussed above, any time you’re questioned by the police, whether you’re the one being charged or not, it’s natural to feel stressed out and face a wealth of questions. That’s why your next step should be contacting an experienced lawyer right away and, when possible, before you even speak to the police.

That’s where JC Law comes in. We’ve been protecting the rights of Marylanders and others across the mid-Atlantic region for over 30 years, and we stand ready to help you in your time of need.

Call us at (888) JCLAW-10 for a free, one-on-one consultation with a member of our team, or click here to schedule your consultation at your convenience.

Remember, at JC Law, we aren’t just your attorney. We’re your legal ally.