When a party is questioned by police, particularly when the interrogation occurs in a custodial setting, individuals have important rights. It is critical that residents of New Mexico and elsewhere understand all of the protections they have when they are questioned by the police.
Right to remain silent
Individuals have protections against self-incrimination, so they cannot be forced to speak with the police even if they are brought to the police station for questioning. However, it is important that individuals clearly verbalize their desire not to speak to the authorities. Once a party conveys that they do not wish to speak with police, questioning must stop, and it is often inadvisable to speak with the authorities in a criminal matter with which you may be involved.
Right to counsel
People also have the right to be represented by counsel when they are subject to police interrogation. It is important to invoke this right so that police stop speaking to you until counsel arrives. It is also critical to call an experienced criminal defense attorney, and if you can’t afford one, the government will provide one at government expense.
During questioning, it is possible that police may wish to take photographs of parts of your body hidden by clothing. In many instances, police need a warrant to conduct such photographing, and individuals should request to see any paperwork that supposedly authorizes such photographing.
Fair interrogation tactics
Police are required to treat individuals fairly during interrogations. For instance, police must allow parties to use the bathrooms, have meals, and take breaks. If authorities do not conduct the interrogation fairly, any statements made at the interrogation can be suppressed and the acts can form the basis of a civil lawsuit. As a result, individuals being questioned by the police should contact counsel to fully preserve their rights.