Whether you have committed a crime or not, facing and answering questions from police is unnerving. One sentence can change you from an innocent observer to a suspect.
However, you have the right to remain silent. You do not have to answer police questions without an attorney. These are reasons you should remain silent when law enforcement questions you.
You may incriminate yourself
In the midst of questioning, you probably feel nervous, stressed and insecure. Unfortunately, your stress can lead you to unintentionally incriminate yourself. You may even tell accidental white lies or exaggerate details, which can get you into trouble. The truth is, the police are looking for misconceptions, inconsistencies or other information that they can use against you.
Police do not have the authority to grant leniency
Some officers attempt to get confessions by saying that they can speak with the judge and get you leniency or reduced charges. However, the police do not have any authority to reduce or dismiss your charges. Their job is to gather evidence. The rest is up to the district attorney, judge and jury. Remaining silent gives you a better chance of reduced charges.
It is better to confess later
If you did commit a crime and want to confess, it is often better to do so later. A confession results in a concrete case. You give up much of your negotiating power and any chance of a more lenient charge if you confess right away. You may even receive much harsher punishment than if you negotiated a plea deal later in the process.
To protect yourself, learn about your Miranda rights. Pay attention to whether the police Mirandized you prior to questioning.