ALERT: Reminder of Legal Rights if Approached by the FBI


Numerous calls to CAIR-Chicago recently signal that the FBI has increased its visits to families in the Chicagoland Muslim community over the last few days. As a result we want to send out a reminder of your rights when interacting with the FBI in case you are contacted or have already been contacted.

The American Muslim community and CAIR strongly support law enforcement and the protection of our national security. But as Americans we also value the civil rights of every individual. All Americans have the constitutional right of due process and to be politically active.

If you know of any criminal activity taking place in your community, it is both your religious and civic duty to immediately report such activity to local and federal law enforcement agencies. But if you are approached for voluntary questioning by law enforcement, you should remember your rights as listed below.

Know Your Rights When Contacted by a Law Enforcement Officer

  1. Understand that providing information to the FBI or any law enforcement officer, absent a subpoena, is strictly voluntary. You are not obligated under the law to answer any questions from law enforcement officers other than providing them with an official identification card.
  2. You may choose to have an attorney accompany or represent you for any interview or questioning. We strongly recommend you consult with an attorney regarding the risks and benefits of being interviewed by law enforcement agents in your specific case. CAIR may provide legal assistance or can refer you to an attorney.
  3. If FBI agents show up at your home or workplace and do not have a search or arrest warrant, you have no obligation to let them in.
  4. If they do have an arrest or search warrant, you can still exercise your right to remain silent. Comply with all directives and do not physically resist an officer. Be polite and respectful at all times. You also have the right to an attorney.
  5. If an agent or officer says they have some questions for you, you have the right to not speak to them and/or you may tell the agents or officers that you will have your attorney contact them if they wish to speak to you. Again, CAIR can provide legal assistance or can refer you to an attorney.
  6. Note that anything you say to an agent or officer can be used against you in a court of law and that lying to an agent or officer, whether innocently or intentionally, is a criminal offense.
  7. Should you decide to speak to agents alone despite the risks, note that you may set the conditions of the interview, including choosing when and where the interview is to take place, having a third party present such as a family member or community leader, deciding which questions to answer, and refusing to sign any documents. You may cancel the interview at any time. (Ask the agent if you may record the interview.)
  8. Be sure to get the names, agencies, badge numbers, and business cards of all agents or officers who visit you.
  9. Contact your attorney and/or CAIR to report the interview/incident and to discuss what may happen next. If you feel that your civil rights were violated, you may also file a complaint with the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division. CAIR can help you with this process.
  10. To file a civil rights complaint with CAIR, please visit: Report an Incident. The legal services provided by CAIR are almost entirely free of charge.

You may request a Know Your Rights Presentation for your community on CAIR-Chicago’s website.

[Please note: This above is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Should you have any questions about the material herein or about a specific case, please consult with your attorney.]