If you're worried the police may interrogate you about an alleged criminal offense, it's wise to know both what your rights are and what the cops are allowed to do. This applies even if an officer says they're only interested in speaking with you as a witness. It's smart to know how to approach the situation so try to keep these three issues in mind.

1. They Can Speak Without Your Counsel Present

You have the right to criminal defense lawyer services, and you absolutely should exercise it. Note, however, the police are allowed to talk while you wait from your attorney to arrive. Regardless of what they ask you, do not indulge them. Simply assert your right to remain silent. If you slip up and start chatting with them, reassert your right to remain silent as soon as you realize the mistake.

2. They Can Lie

Here's one of the strangest things about the American legal system: you aren't legally supposed to lie to the cops, but they're allowed to lie to you. This technique is allowed because it's supposed to make it possible for the cops to sort out inconsistencies. Police officers can tell some pretty outlandish lies, too. For example, they're allowed to tell you that a friend of yours who's being interrogated separately has confessed when they haven't.

No matter what the police tell you happened, do not change your story. Even if the cops make it feel like you must have misremembered something, tell your story as best you remember it. If your criminal defense tells you to not answer a question, then tell the police you decline to answer on the advice of counsel.

3. They Can Detain You

If you have not been charged with an offense, you have every right to get up and leave at any time. The police must either arrest you or let you go, but you'll at least force their hand.

Once you've been arrested, the police have a limited amount of time to detain you before you must be brought before a court. Every state has its rules on how long this is, but it usually ranges between 48 and 96 hours, with some allowances for the cops if the courts are closed on a weekend.

Notably, the police are not allowed to interrogate you relentlessly the whole time. Although hard limits aren't set, an interrogation that goes on for hours upon hours should be mentioned when you're sent to the initial hearing before a judge.

Learn more about how to interact with the police by contacting a criminal defense lawyer.