It’s always stressful to be stopped by the authorities, especially if you don’t know why you’ve been stopped in the first place.
In the first installment of our “Law Enforcement Encounters” series, our team of experienced civil rights attorneys at the Gilbert Law Firm laid out some helpful tips on what to do if you’re stopped by the police.
In today’s article, we’ll be going over what to do if an agent with the FBI, or Federal Bureau of Investigations, wants to speak with you.
If the FBI Wants to Speak With You
Your rights when speaking with the FBI are mostly the same as your rights when speaking with the police or any other law enforcement officer.
If an agent visits your home or office, you do not need to answer any of their questions. You can remain silent except to say you want to talk to a lawyer first.
An FBI agent can only enter your home if they have a warrant signed by a judge. Ask to see the warrant and check to make sure it has your full name, address, and a judge’s signature before you open your door or invite the officer in.
If you are arrested, contact your lawyer or a family member immediately. You have a right to remain silent until your lawyer arrives.
However, there are a few things you might want to keep in mind when dealing with the FBI that might not apply with other law enforcement agencies.
- If the FBI asks you to participate in an interview, you have the right to refuse.
- If you are willing to be interviewed, it is in your best interest to have your attorney with you.
- In the interview, you do not need to answer any questions you don’t want to; you may also limit your answers to select topics.
- While you always have the right to refuse to answer a question, lying to a federal officer is a crime and can get you in more serious trouble than lying to a local police officer.
The FBI can often have an agenda beyond the prosecution of local crimes. The most important thing you can do when dealing with the FBI is to consult with a civil rights attorney who has experience dealing with law enforcement and federal agencies in particular.
How to respond if you’re stopped by FBI authorities
There are bad apples in all branches of law enforcement. Before he became an attorney, Bill Gilbert was a deputy. He’s seen first-hand that officers of the law can sometimes be unprofessional.
So how should you respond if you’re stopped by the FBI and are nervous about how they will treat you?
- Be polite and cooperative. Remember: you are not required to tell them anything, or go anywhere with them unless you are under arrest.
- If they ask for identification, provide it. Even if you think you shouldn’t have to. Remember, you have no idea why they are asking.
- Do not resist – ever.
- If you are confused, politely ask them to clarify. If they refuse, ask to speak to a lawyer.
- If there is something they ask you to do that you cannot do, explain yourself calmly and clearly. (For example, you can’t lay down on the ground because you just had spine surgery.)
- If they want to arrest you, let them arrest you. You can sort it out later.
- If they write you a ticket, thank them, go about your business – and deal with it later.
If they beat you, tase you, shoot you, or harm you in any other way for no reason, contact our firm as soon as possible.
Contact the Gilbert Law Firm for Help if You’ve Been Stopped by the Authorities
The violation of a person’s civil rights is a very serious matter. If you’ve had an experience like this, seek out an experienced civil rights attorney that is tireless in their defense and committed to getting justice for you.
At Gilbert Law Firm, we are not afraid to represent the powerless against the abuses of the powerful. If you have questions about your interactions with the police or the FBI, contact us today for a free consultation.