question.jpgIn Criminal Law

If a police officer is talking to me, can I walk away?

You want to talk about a sticky situation? Here’s another time in which you can’t win: Unless a police officer has reasonable suspicion to detain you, or probable cause to arrest you, you have every right to walk away from a police encounter. But, guess what? There is no way really for you to know if the officer has either reasonable suspicion or probable cause; the fact is, an officer may have reasonable suspicion to stop you, even if you never did anything wrong. So, what can you do? The best thing in this situation is simply to ask: “Officer, is it alright if I leave?” If the officer says no, then you’d better stick around and argue the reasonable suspicion/probable cause issue later, in court. Keep in mind, also, that even if you start to answer a police officer’s questions, you can still ask to walk away.