The Nelson Law Group

What To Do and Not to Do When Being Questioned by the Police

By Pierce Blitch

The Fear Factor in Arrests

Getting arrested is a daunting experience, and popular culture—through films, TV shows, and news—only amplifies this fear. However, it’s vital to remember that you have rights during an arrest. At The Nelson Law Group, we regularly represent clients who falter under the stress exerted by arresting and questioning officers. Knowing the single most important action to take can safeguard your rights.

The Only Phrase You Need: “Lawyer Up”

If you are confronted by the police, the smartest response is to be polite, but straightforward. Assert your desire for legal representation. You must clearly and unambiguously assert your right to have an attorney present for any questioning by saying the magic words: “I want a lawyer.” By invoking your right to counsel, you are not being defiant; you are merely protecting your constitutional rights. This ensures your words aren’t used against you in a court of law. Don’t ask questions. Don’t offer any explanations. Specifically ask for and get a lawyer.

You cannot just say “lawyer” or “attorney.”

Even just, “Lawyer.”  There is case law that states the statement “lawyer.” is insufficient to invoke the right to counsel. See Davis v. United States, 512 U.S. 452 (1994). A defendant must clearly and unambiguously invoke the right to counsel.

Why Trying to Outsmart the Police Can Backfire

Believe it or not, outwitting the police is a battle you’re likely to lose. Their expertise isn’t just in law enforcement but in securing convictions, regardless of your innocence or mitigating circumstances. During police questioning, officers will likely ask you questions that they know the answer to. If you say something that contradicts what they know, even if you don’t mean to be deceitful, this could make the questioning officer suspicious of your entire story.

The Truth About Police Deals

It’s a hard truth: police can mislead. The guise of undercover operations is proof of their capacity for deception. Reject any offers made in the absence of your attorney. Promises of leniency or “putting in a good word” are typically empty and unenforceable.

Stand Firm Against Intimidation

Police tactics are designed to intimidate: their authoritative tone, their uniforms, their very demeanor. You might be tempted to take a quick deal or confess under pressure—especially when they claim that an offer expires upon your lawyer’s arrival or assert overwhelming evidence against you. Remember, their primary role is to maintain order and secure convictions. Your best defense is hiring an experienced and capable attorney to protect your interests.

Understanding your rights and the proper actions to take when arrested can significantly affect the outcome of your case. Remember, asserting your right to legal representation should always be your first step.


We fight for you, and we don’t back down. Every criminal charge holds potentially life-altering consequences. We don’t hold back on providing our clients the best possible criminal defense available. Nearly all the attorneys at The Nelson Law Group are former Assistant District Attorneys, so our unique insight on how the prosecution approaches cases equips us with the ability to see the case from all sides. If you, a family member, or a close friend faces criminal charges, contact The Nelson Law Group today at 706-434-8770 or visit us at 7004 Evans Town Center Blvd., Third Floor, Evans, Georgia 30809 to discuss your unique case and our creative defense strategies with one of our experienced criminal defense attorneys.

Disclaimer: The content on this site is offered solely for informational purposes and might not represent the current law in your jurisdiction. None of the details provided here should be interpreted as legal advice from The Nelson Law Group or from the individual writer. Additionally, it is not meant to replace professional legal advice. Readers should not base their actions or decisions to abstain from actions solely on the information found in or available through this site. Instead, they should seek tailored legal or other expert counsel regarding their specific situation from an attorney or other professional authorized to practice in the reader’s state, nation, or other relevant licensing area.

Categories: Criminal Defense