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Limit of what can be asked
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Post Limit of what can be asked 
Is there a limit to the questions an officer can ask a citizen when he does not have probable cause? For example, he drives through the parking lot of a local mall, sees a citizen exiting a vehicle which is similar to those drive by police. The citizens vehicle has no external markings on it, yet the officer (in plain clothes and a marked card) asks the citizen their name, where they live, where they got the car etc. Ending his remarks with "we've had a lot of used squad cars purchased by the public, and it's becoming a problem." The citizen was not written any tickets. No warnings. Nothing. Just stopped and asked the questions above. Can they detain you and ask questions for their own curiosity? I seriously doubt he was looking for a similar car used in the commission of a crime because he didn't ask any questions related to that type investigation.

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This is a difficult question to respond to without knowing what prompted the officer to speak with you. An officer cannot stop or detain an individual simply to satisfy their curiousity. An officer must have reasonable suspicion or probable cause to detain an individual or to effect a traffic stop. And, there is no limit as to how many questions an officer can ask.

It may not always be immediately apparent what we as law enforcement officers do. If you ask, we will explain.

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an officer can ask you any question he or she wants the first ammendment gives them that right, but the fourth gives you the right not to answer.

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Post Limit of what can be asked 
Sounds like a consentual encounter to me. He was out of uniform. You CHOSE to speak with him. It was not a detainment at all. He/she can ask you any amount of questions that he/she wishes if you keep answering them. And there has been a big problem with impersonators so sounds like he was a good officer doing his job EVEN off duty. Good job Officer.

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First of all, civilians ask impertinent questions of officers all the time. While there may sometimes be legal or other constraints that prohibit them from going into detail, most will at least give a simple reply to let the person know they are being heard. I really dont see why it should be any different when the officer is the one asking a harmless question.

However, if an officer asks what you feel to be an inappropriate question, you should stay calm and speak frankly but politely by saying Im sorry, but I dont have time to talk right now. Most officers will tell you to have a good day and drive away. If the officer persists with unwanted questions then you should ask Am I being detained? Again, while most officers will likely give an unambiguous answer to this, a few may continue with their questions without answering yours. At that point, you should simply say Well, Ill be leaving now if Im not being detained. When you turn to walk away, you will know for certain whether you are being detained.

Keep in mind that abrupt reactions to being questioned by an officer (such as immediately running away) may actually serve as a legal pretext for being detained.

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