WHAT TO DO IF STOPPED OR QUESTIONED BY LAW ENFORCEMENT.
April 29, 2009
1. Think carefully about your words, movement, body language, and emotions. Keep your hands where Law Enforcement can see them. Do not keep moving or run away if ordered to stop, even if you believe what is happening is unreasonable. You will be arrested if you do.Do not interfere with or obstruct Law Enforcement. Obey all instructions from law enforcement when it concerns where they want you to be and in what position and if they tell you to shut up or back off, do it. You can be arrested not following these types of instructions. Don’t touch any Law Enforcement officer. Don’t resist even if you believe you are innocent.
Ask if you are under arrest, and if not, ask if you are free to leave. If you are under arrest, you have a right to know why and if you are free to leave, do so.
2. Law Enforcement may ask for your name and you can be arrested for refusing to give it. If you reasonably fear that your name is incriminating, you can claim the right to remain silent, which may be a defense in case you are arrested anyway. The courts have allowed police officers to detain people for extended periods of time in an effort to determine the identity of the individual.
You must show your driver’s license, registration and proof of insurance when stopped in a car. Otherwise, you don’t have to answer any questions if you are detained or arrested.
Don’t say anything without a lawyer. Ask to see a lawyer immediately. If you can’t pay for a lawyer, you have a right to a free one, and you should ask Law Enforcement how the lawyer can be contacted. Don’t give any explanations, excuses or stories. You can make your defense later, in court, based on what you and your lawyer decides is best. Do not make any decisions in your case until you have talked with a lawyer. It’s not a crime to refuse to answer questions, but refusing to answer can make Law Enforcement suspicious about you.
3. You don’t have to consent to any search of yourself, your car or your house. If you DO consent to a search, it can affect your rights later in court.If Law Enforcement knock and ask to enter your home, you don’t have to admit them unless they have a warrant signed by a judge. If Law Enforcement says they have a search warrant, ASK TO SEE IT. However, in some emergency situations (like when a person is screaming for help inside, or when Law Enforcement is chasing someone) officers are allowed to enter and search your home without a warrant.
In certain cases, your car can be searched without a warrant as long as Law Enforcement has probable cause. To protect yourself later, you should make it clear that you do not consent to a search.
Law Enforcement may “pat-down” your clothing if they suspect a concealed weapon. Don’t physically resist, but make it clear that you don’t consent to any further search.
If you are arrested, Law Enforcement can search you and the area close by.
It is not lawful for Law Enforcement to arrest you simply for refusing to consent to a search.