It is generally a good idea to be cooperative when a police officer places you under arrest. However, there are times when you can, and absolutely should, exercise your right to remain silent until your lawyer is present. Once a person is formally arrested, they should request the presence of a lawyer during any custodial questioning.
If you are under suspicion of a drug offense, there are specific things you should avoid saying. You stand to benefit greatly by knowing which phrases might incriminate you, affect an officer’s disposition, or otherwise hinder your case.
Any consent to a search
Telling a police officer that they can search your vehicle or home, even in passing, can be a huge mistake. If an officer conducts an unlawful or warrantless search, you may be able to challenge the legality of their actions in court. You lose that opportunity if you offer any degree of consent.
Any admission of guilt
Even if you do not formally plead guilty to a drug offense, a minor slip of the tongue can paint you in a negative light. Saying, “I didn’t know what I was committing a crime,” for example, can indicate guilt of the action. Moreover, anything you say can be used against you in court. Trying to talk your way out of trouble may seem helpful — however, even things that sound appropriate or innocent can seem inconsistent with other evidence. Police and prosecutors often seek to “spin” a statement to sound incriminating based upon timelines, statements from other people who may or may not be telling the truth, and other evidence to impeach a person’s credibility, claiming that the words are tantamount to a guilty statement in relation to the other — competing –evidence..
Note that the so-called “Miranda warning” only applies to statements made while a person is in formal custody — typically after arrest — and only when police question a person who is in formal custody. Offering statements of any kind voluntarily (not in response to a question) can turn out to be incriminating — even if seemingly innocent and even if truthful about an innocent event. Similarly, answering questions will be deemed voluntary. It is best to exercise the right to remain silent at all times during a police investigation — before or after arrest — and clearly request the presence of your lawyer for any questioning.
Insulting a police officer may not be a crime in itself, but doing so can still land you in deeper trouble. At the very least you will likely receive stricter treatment during questioning.
During the initial arrest for a drug crime, the only thing you must say to a police officer is your name. Otherwise, it is probably best to avoid offering any other statements until you have a legal advocate who can help protect your rights.