You don’t want to find yourself in a conversation with a police officer who suspects that you have committed a crime, but it happens. That doesn’t mean you’re guilty. Maybe the officer thought you were driving under the influence when you’re actually sober, for instance, or maybe you fit a profile while walking down the street. But these conversations do happen, and it’s important to know how to navigate them.

One thing you want to do is to be polite and respectful, even if you think there’s no reason for the police to be talking to you. Don’t insult the officers or act in a combative manner. If they’re violating your rights, you can deal with that if you end up in the court system. Don’t escalate the situation.

At the same time, it is important to know your rights. You don’t have to say anything or answer any questions. If you want, you can tell them you’d like to see a lawyer. You don’t have to tell them that you’re guilty or innocent. In most cases, it’s best to say as little as possible and just ask them if you’re free to go. If they’re not arresting you or detaining you, they’ll tell you.

You may even want to treat it as a misunderstanding. You know you did nothing wrong, but you understand that police officers are human. They make mistakes. Just try to be calm, don’t admit to anything, and try to diffuse the situation. If it gets serious and you can tell that they’re going to arrest you, maintain that you know your rights and you want to see your lawyer.