When our forefathers created the Constitution, they did so with a great eye toward freedom and unfair prosecution of crimes. As such, they laid out some very specific amendments that help you guarantee those rights. But it is up to you to protect them--not up to the cops who are investigating a crime.
Many people are aware of their rights from watching television and movies: You have the right to remain silent, anything you say can and will be used against you. You have the right to an attorney and if you cannot afford one, the court will appoint one for you. That's all well and good if you get charged and get to court. But is that the first time you should be invoking your rights?
Know what not to say
You do not ever have to talk to an officer who is investigating a crime. Many people think they can't just walk away from a cop. If law enforcement comes to your door and asks to talk to you, you are under no obligation to do so. And if a policeman calls and asks you to come down to the station for a chat, by all means, invoke your rights and refuse to go.
Detectives and investigators not only are allowed to lie to you but they violate the rights of suspects on a regular basis. Unless and until you are arrested, a cop won't read you your rights. Many people erroneously think that if they have not been read their rights, that they are not in jeopardy of prosecution. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
Know what you should say
As mentioned above, you--and only you--are capable of protecting your rights. And there is a simple and easy way to do it whenever you are approached by law enforcement. Just recite these ten words, "I want my attorney and I won't talk to you." When you invoke your right to counsel and state unequivocally that you do not want to speak with an officer, they are required to respect that boundary, and cease all questioning.
Cops have been known to bait people into talking--to use coercive measures to resolve their case. And while it may be difficult to avoid responding, your future depends on it. Learn the ten small words, repeat them until they roll off your tongue and use them if the police come knocking.