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Know Your Rights with Illinois Police: What to Do If You’re Questioned

Police car: Know your rights with Illinois police.

Introduction: Questioning by Illinois Police

Being questioned by the Illinois police can be a nerve-wracking experience, especially if you have never been in that situation before. It is important to understand your rights under Illinois law to ensure that you are protected during any police encounter. In this blog, we will discuss what to do if you are questioned by the police about a crime without being arrested, and how to assert your rights, including your right to an attorney.

  1. You have the right to remain silent
    First and foremost, it is crucial to remember that you have the right to remain silent. You are not legally obligated to answer any questions posed by the police, even if you are not under arrest. Politely inform the officer that you choose to exercise your right to remain silent.
  2. You have the right to an attorney
    Under Illinois law, you have the right to have an attorney present during any questioning by the police. This right applies whether or not you have been arrested. If you cannot afford an attorney, you have the right to a public defender if you are later arrested and charged with a crime. Remember to clearly and calmly state that you wish to have an attorney present before answering any questions.
  3. Ask if you are free to leave
    If the police are questioning you without placing you under arrest, ask them if you are free to leave. Officers can only detain you if they have reasonable suspicion that you have committed a crime or are about to commit a crime. If they do not have reasonable suspicion, they must let you go. Politely ask the officer, “Am I free to leave?” If they say yes, calmly walk away from the situation.
  4. Do not consent to searches without a warrant
    You have the right to refuse a search of your person, vehicle, or home without a warrant. If an officer asks for your permission to search you or your property, calmly and respectfully decline. Officers may still conduct a search if they have probable cause to believe that a crime has been committed, but it is crucial to assert your rights and not consent to a search without a warrant.
  5. Be polite and respectful
    Although you may feel nervous or intimidated, it is important to remain calm, polite, and respectful when interacting with the police. Avoid arguing, raising your voice, or using profanity. Maintaining a respectful demeanor can help to de-escalate the situation and protect your rights.
  6. Record the encounter if possible
    If you feel that your rights may be violated during a police encounter, it is a good idea to record the interaction if it is safe and legal to do so. In Illinois, you have the right to record on-duty police officers in public places as long as you are not interfering with their duties.


Knowing your rights when questioned by the police without being arrested is essential to protect yourself and ensure a fair outcome. Remember to exercise your right to remain silent, ask for an attorney, and calmly assert your rights throughout the encounter. If you are arrested or feel that your rights have been violated, consult an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.

Call Daniel Kay at 618-596-3247 for assistance or contact us today!

To read more on this subject go to this article from Illinois Legal Aid.


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