If Pennsylvania law enforcement officers pull you over while driving or contact you about an investigation, you may automatically feel like you need to answer their questions. However, it is important to understand that you have certain rights under the law. In a state or federal investigation, you may choose whether you answer questions from an agent or officer. For example, you may decide to remain silent or to answer questions only when a lawyer is present.
The American Civil Liberties Union makes it clear that the constitutional right to remain silent gives you the freedom to choose not to answer questions from a police officer or federal agent. While you may feel intimidated if you are under arrest or in jail, even those circumstances do not legally compel you to answer questions. In some situations, a judge may issue a subpoena ordering you to provide information. If you do receive a subpoena, the law requires you to report to court as instructed. Once there, however, you may still exercise your right to avoid answering questions that could incriminate you.
If you do choose to answer questions about an investigation, it is essential to understand that your answers may factor into a prosecution or criminal case against you or someone else. Answers you give may qualify as evidence, and law enforcement officers or federal agents may use them in legal action against you. It is not illegal to choose to remain silent during questions from a police officer. However, intentionally lying to a government official is against the law.
This information on interacting with law enforcement personnel is intended to educate and should not be interpreted as legal advice.