Question: Can you discuss the magic words, “Am I free to go?” Why are these words so important to a person who has been stopped by a police officer in Oklahoma?
Answer: The phrase “Am I free to go?” is very important. Officers like to say that when they are having contact with a person that the contact is consensual; that the person was free to go at any point in time, but yet they chose to stick around and speak with the officer. And any information which the officer gets from somebody while they are having this “consensual encounter” can be used against the person in court. I would advise people to ask if they are free to go at the earliest opportunity, whenever they have contact with the police officer. Once you ask the officer if you are free to go, if an officer says, “yes,” then by all means leave; there is absolutely no reason for you to stick around. If the officer says, “No, you are not free to leave,” then you are under arrest. You are being investigated for a crime and, like the phrase in Miranda, anything you say can and will be used against you. If you are not free to leave, be quiet, don’t consent to any searches, do not agree to any testing. Just ask for an attorney.