How should college students talk to the police?

As a college student, you hope that you simply do not have to talk to the police. It worries you. What if you say the wrong thing? What if you incriminate yourself? What if the situation spirals out of control and turns into a confrontation?

In college, you're well aware of how your actions today can impact your future. You want the impact to be positive -- getting a degree, making connections, learning more about your field -- and not negative. You don't want anything on your permanent record. You don't want a simple mistake to define that future.

With all of this in mind, here are a few tips about how to talk to the police.

Remember that you don't have to

First of all, if the police come to your apartment or the house that you're renting, you don't have to let them in or speak to them without a warrant. You can calmly tell them that you won't open the door unless they get a warrant and return. They may try to intimidate you, but you don't have to let them in without reason. There are limited exceptions, such as:

  • Detecting an emergency
  • Seeing something in plain view
  • Getting invited in
  • Searching after an arrest

In most cases, though, you can keep the door closed and tell them to return with a warrant or not at all.

Keep your cool

Technically speaking, the police can't arrest you for swearing at them or things of this nature. It's not illegal. That said, it's usually not wise, either. This may give them more incentive to look for a reason to arrest you, it could lead to a false arrest or it could cause them to claim you started disturbing the peace. Essentially, you make the situation harder for yourself. Instead, stay calm, even if you feel nervous or if you don't want to talk.

Exercise your right to silence

You don't even have to talk to the police at all. You have a right to stay silent, even if they arrest you. This is one of the easiest ways to make sure you don't say anything that simply makes the situation more complicated. If you're nervous about incriminating yourself while feeling flustered and confused, say nothing.

Silence isn't your only right. That's why some people recommend repeatedly asking for a lawyer when you don't want to answer questions, rather than staying completely silent. You don't incriminate yourself and you show the police that you know your rights. That may protect you.

After an arrest

No matter how you talk to the police, if you get arrested on drug charges, DUI charges or something of this nature, make sure you know what legal steps to take in Georgia.

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