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This question asks how you should respond to a police stop, and one of the answers sited what I believe is common wisdom, ie "be co-operative".

This got me thinking - what are the advantages of being co-operative, rather then being non-responsive except to the extent you are obliged to be - ie simply not answering any questions you are asked (without explaining why), while still following lawful instructions (eg handing over your papers when asked, getting out of the car if instructed etc) ?

  • This video explains the legal reason why you should not talk to the police, without an attorney: youtube.com/watch?v=ZGgKLgVNfAo. That is the key: have your attorney, even if you are innocent. – user6726 Feb 8 '17 at 5:50
  • Yes, that video is actually the basis for asking my question. I know my interpretation is pedantic, but that is why I asked about simply not answering questions asked by the officer, rather then playing the game by turning the question back on them. – davidgo Feb 8 '17 at 6:50
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The advantages are:

  • police officers, like all enforcement officers, have discretion on how they treat what they perceive to be transgressions of the law they enforce. If you are cooperative and helpful they may exercise that discretion to your benefit, if you are obstructive and difficult they may exercise it to your detriment: this may be the difference between a warning, a ticket and an arrest.

  • one of the things that judges are allowed to take into consideration when sentencing is remorse. While the linked podcast indicates that this is not an easy thing to objectively define, it includes accepting that what you did was wrong and mitigating the harm that was done which would include cooperating with law enforcement.

The disadvantages are:

  • you may reveal information that is not known to the officer. This may or may not be admissible evidence but, notwithstanding, it may serve as a basis for further investigations which can discover things you would rather the police officer did not discover. For example Officer: "Do you know why I stopped you?" You: "I assume because of the dead body I have in the boot."
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