Albemarle, North Carolina
136 S 2nd St
Albemarle, NC 28001
(704) 984-6060

What to Know About Exercising Your Right to Silence During a Traffic Stop July 9, 2019

Albemarle, Stanly
What to Know About Exercising Your Right to Silence During a Traffic Stop, Albemarle, North Carolina

American criminal laws state that anyone stopped and questioned by police has the right to maintain silence as a way to avoid incriminating themselves. But there are certain instances where you should speak to make your actions and intentions clear, and there are instances where silence is always preferable. To better understand which option is best in which situations, below are some important things to know about the right to remain silent.

When to Speak

criminal lawIf police pull you over and ask to search your vehicle, politely refuse. They need either probable cause or a judge's warrant to perform a search. Barring these options, they need consent, so refusing the search is a way for you to maintain your fourth amendment rights against unwarranted search and seizure. If they have probable cause, they can go ahead and search anyway, but as long as you state your refusal, they will need to justify their reasons for the search—both in the report they file and in any criminal law case that might develop from the incident.

Also, as soon as the officer starts asking questions, inform them you are invoking your right to silence. Outside of basic identifying information, such as your name and providing an ID, you are not legally obligated to say anything more.

When to Remain Silent

An officer who suspects you of a crime may try to get you to speak. Silence might only frustrate them and stoke their suspicions. So, remain calm at all times, and say nothing more after stating your wish to remain silent. If an officer continues asking questions, you can ask them if you are being charged with a crime and, if not, if you are free to leave. If they say you are free to leave, calmly and quietly do so. If an officer becomes aggressive, comply with them while maintaining silence as much as possible. Record the incident on your smartphone, make a note of the officer's badge number, and file a complaint later; a criminal law attorney can guide you through this process.


Whether or not you invoke your right to silence, an attorney can safeguard you throughout the legal system. Fulcher Law Firm has over 20 years' experience serving clients throughout Stanly, Anson and Montgomery Counties in North Carolina. They handle criminal law cases ranging from traffic violations to felonies, as well as divorces, legal separations, and child custody matters. Call (704) 984-6060 or visit them online to schedule a consultation.

Other Announcements, Events and Deals from Fulcher Law Firm
4 FAQ About Domestic Violence Law in North Carolina, Albemarle, North Carolina
Domestic violence law is a practice area that most people don't know much about or, luckily, experience first-hand. However, if you ever find yourself in a scary situation, having a more
3 Common North Carolina Traffic Violations, Albemarle, North Carolina
When you’re trying to make it to your destination, the sight of flashing lights in your rearview mirror can be frustrating. However, traffic violations exist to keep roads safe more
3 Common Misconceptions About Divorce, Albemarle, North Carolina
Divorce is an issue that's widely misunderstood, mostly due to a lack of understanding about the law and legal procedures. To most effectively navigate the end of a marriage, you more
What’s the Difference Between a DUI & a DWI?, Albemarle, North Carolina
Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is a serious offense. However, some drivers can get confused about what their legal charges entail, as the violation may be referred more
4 Ways to Help Your Adopted Child Adjust, Albemarle, North Carolina
The process of adopting a child can be complicated, requiring the expertise of an adoption lawyer to work through frustrating jargon and confusing paperwork. However, the more