What is a voluntary encounter with the police? Do you have to chat with a police officer even if you’d rather leave the premises? Can they make you answer questions? Keep reading to find out all about voluntary police encounters.


Three Types Of Police-Initiated Encounters

The essential thing to remember when we’re talking about talking to the police is that there are three situations where you typically might come into contact with the police and your rights differ depending on the type of encounter. In general, the three types of meetings are (1) voluntary, (2) temporary detention, and (3) arrest.

Blackman Bail Bonds What Is A Voluntary Encounter With Police

Sometimes a police officer is just patrolling the neighborhood.


What Makes It A Voluntary Encounter With Police

Think of an optional meeting with a police officer as a casual chat. Like anyone, a police officer can start a conversation with you at any time. It’s important to know that the officer doesn’t need to think that you’re involved with any crime to say hello and ask a question or two.

Voluntary encounters with the police often don’t have anything to do with a specific crime and are instead part of a community policing effort to stay connected with people in a neighborhood. The vital thing to cement into your memory is that you do not have to answer any questions or give your name to the police when involved in a voluntary encounter. You are free to say goodbye and walk away from the police officer at any time.


Temporary Detention

Sometimes the police officer develops a reasonable suspicion that you’re involved in criminal activity during the voluntary encounter or by some other means. When you can’t walk away from a meeting with the police, your situation has moved to one of temporary detention. For example, if you’re pulled over for driving under the influence, you are considered to be temporarily detained while the police determine if you meet the criteria for arrest.Temporary detention differs from a voluntary encounter in that you are not free to leave in a temporary detention situation. Also, you must provide accurate identification when requested. Never forget that you do not have to answer questions although you’re not free to leave.



We’re all familiar with the basics of being placed under arrest. You’ll hear from the arresting officer that you’re under arrest and the police officer will notify you of all the rights that you have as someone under arrest. Criminal defense attorneys recommend that you do not answer any questions until your lawyer is in the room.

While getting arrested is no fun, you can now talk with your lawyer and wait for information on bail. We’re always available to help clients in and around Harrisburg achieve release from jail by posting bond. The quicker you can let us know that you are in custody, the faster you can complete the paperwork, and we can get started on your bond.

Lastly, you now know the answer to the question of what is a voluntary encounter with police, and you’re more prepared to exercise all of your constitutional rights. If you end up arrested and in custody, contact us at Blackman Bail Bonds so that you can go home as fast as possible.