[EDIT: Please assume U.S. jurisdiction, since that's what relevant to me.]
I was recently reminded of this interesting talk, 'Don't Talk To The Police' by Regent Law Professor James Duane. Therein, he says (at 0:20) that he will "never talk to any police officer under any circumstances," and the bulk of his half of the video is him explaining why we should all resolve to do the same.
His 8 reasons are very compelling, but I can't seem to get over the utter absoluteness of the "never ... under any circumstances" bit.
What about these manufactured examples:
- Suppose I come to discover physical evidence that an adult has been sexting a minor. In such a case I believe the law compels me to report my discovery to law enforcement. Not only must I talk to them to convey the problem, but I'm certain they will have followup questions for me.
- Suppose my epileptic spouse has a seizure in our residence directly behind a locked bathroom door that swings inward-- hinges are on on her side-- and I call 911 after I tear out the door to aid her. A police officer shows up along with EMS, sees the broken door & blood from a chewed up tongue and gets suspicious. Let's say my spouse is still unconscious & can't corroborate. I'd need to communicate with EMS about my wife's condition & what happened, but the officer is standing right there listening. If I take the 5th, not only might my wife's medical care be impacted, but I will likely be arrested by default on suspicion of battery. (As defaults go, this would actually be prudent on the officer's part, but would completely suck for me.)
- Suppose a police officer shows up at my house to investigate a burglary a few houses down the street, and is just knocking on doors asking neighbors if they saw or heard anything.
In which of those circumstances should I say "sorry officer, I'm not going to speak with you," and at what point?