By Jedidiah McKeehan

This question seems to come up quite a bit on TV.  Someone is about to sell drugs to an undercover cop and the drug dealer says to the cop, “If I ask you if you are a cop, you have to tell me, right?”

No, no, no!  I have no idea where this came from, but there is no law stating this.  If you ask a cop whether they are a cop, they are absolutely allowed to lie to you.

Let’s think about why this does not make any sense.  So, essentially what someone is thinking is that the cops are not allowed to lie to them.  Well, we know that cops are fully allowed to lie or otherwise we would not have undercover cops who have made up identities.  Beyond that, even when cops are questioning individuals in interrogation rooms, they may say things that are not necessarily the truth in order to get a suspect to confess to having committed a crime.

Practically, if somehow, some way, you have gotten yourself in to some insane predicament where the thought is running through your head, “this is going to be really bad for me if this person is a cop.”  If you are in that position, do yourself a favor and assume that they actually ARE a cop, and separate yourself from whatever you are doing and wherever you are immediately.

Please, please, do not say to them, “Are you a cop?  If I ask you, and you are, you have to tell me!”

Jedidiah McKeehan is an attorney practicing in Knox County and surrounding counties.  He works in many areas, including criminal, personal injury, landlord-tenant, probate, and estate planning. Visit for more information about this legal issue and other legal issues.