Maui Business

Talking Law with David Sereno: Getting Questioned by Police

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Getting questioned by law enforcement isn’t anyone’s idea of a good time.  And while people react in different ways, the experience can undoubtedly be stressful.   How you respond can matter greatly to your case, so defense attorney David Sereno has some pointers in this Talking Law video with Kiaora Bohlool.

Most of us are familiar with Miranda Rights, which law enforcement must express to you if you’re arrested:  “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you. Do you understand the rights I have just read to you?”

But the fact is, if you make statements or answer questions before you’re arrested, what you say can still be used in court.  Here are some important things to know about your rights from the Maui Lawyer Blog on David Sereno’s website:

Police also do not have to say whether someone is under investigation for a crime or a suspect in a case.


Police may pat down your clothing if they suspect a concealed weapon. Do not physically resist, but make it clear that you do not consent to any further search.

During motor vehicle stops, you are obligated to show your driver’s license, registration, and proof of insurance. If you are caught doing something suspicious, such as breaking into your own car because you locked your keys inside, you are required to tell an officer your name and what you’re doing at that moment. Beyond this, you do not have to talk to police and should not talk to law enforcement without a lawyer present.

You have the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney. If the police want to question you, invoke these rights immediately.

It is very important that you say, “I am invoking my right to remain silent and I want a lawyer” instead of just being quiet. The need to verbalize that you are invoking your 5th Amendment right is due to the 2010 Supreme Court case of Berghuis v. Thompkins.


Do not interfere with police and obstruct their investigation. You can be arrested for lying to a police officer. However you do not have to talk to the police, and the fact that you decline to talk to the police cannot be later used against you, as long as you’ve properly invoked your right to remain silent.

Ask if you are under arrest. If you are, you have a right to know why.

In this follow-up Talking Law video, David Sereno and Kiaora Bohlool go further in-depth on the topic of questioning, how stress can have an impact and the wisest way to assert your right to an attorney.


Key Pointers to Remember

–Remain calm and polite. Avoid arguing, threatening, and insulting police officers.
–Think carefully about your words, movement, body language, and emotions.
–Always keep your hands where the officer can see them, such as on the steering wheel if you are in the car, and tell them if you are reaching for anything.
–Do not run, touch a police officer, or resist arrest even if you are innocent.
–Anything you say can and will be used against you. Invoke your right to remain silent and verbalize this.
–Ask for a lawyer. Even if you cannot afford one, you have the right to a free lawyer.
–Don’t tell the police anything besides what is required until your lawyer is present.
–Document anything you can remember such as location, times, officers’ names, etc. Write down details as soon as you can. Try to identify witnesses to help you and obtain their contact information in case they are able to help your case.
–If you are injured, seek medical treatment and take photos of the injuries.
–Do not make any decisions in your case until you have discussed everything thoroughly with a lawyer.

Get more information on David Sereno’s website, and see our other Talking Law videos on topics like medical marijuana, gun laws and more in our Business section.

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