Being polite and not arguing may prevent a police stop from spiraling out of control. But you should take other steps to protect your rights when you are stopped or arrested.
During an arrest, you are required only to identify yourself. You do not have to consent to a police search of yourself or your belongings.
Ask if you are free to leave. If the police officer allows you to leave, calmly and quietly walk away.
There are also other important things to remember during all police encounters:
- Remain calm.
- Do not run.
- Never lie.
- Do not resist or obstruct police.
- Keep your hands visible to police.
- Control your words, body, and emotions.
- Police may use violence if they feel threatened, so it is important to remember these points.
When police flash their lights or signal you to pull over, stop your vehicle in a safe area as quickly as possible. Turn off the ignition, turn on the internal light, partially open the window so police cannot reach into your vehicle and place your hands on the steering wheel.
You must show your driver’s license, vehicle registration and proof of insurance if asked by police.
You can refuse a police request to search your vehicle. But police may conduct a search if they see or have probable cause that there is evidence of a crime in your vehicle.
Motorists and passengers have the right to remain silent. Do not answer even seemingly innocent questions about where you were or the amount you had to drink.
Passengers may ask if they are free to leave. If police allow it, passengers should silently leave.
You may refuse entry to police unless they have a search warrant signed by a judge. Ask to review the warrant.
Warrants should contain your address as the place for the search or your name as the subject of an arrest warrant. Officers are limited to searching the areas and looking for the items listed on the warrant.
Arrest warrants allow police to enter the home of the person named on the warrant if they believe the person is inside. An arrest warrant also has to be signed by a judge.
You may remain silent even if police have a warrant. If you decide to speak, step outside, and close the door.
Guests who answer the door should clearly tell police that they are a guest and do not have the authority to let them inside without the homeowner’s consent.
Do not resist a police officer’s commands, even if you think they are unfair. You can file a complaint later.
You must honestly answer an officer’s questions about your name, address, and birthdate if you are arrested.
Exercise your right to remain silent for all other questions and ask to speak to an attorney. You may make a local telephone call and police cannot listen if you call an attorney.
Do not sign any documents or make any decisions without speaking with an attorney first.
If you believe the police engaged in misconduct or harmed you, write down everything that you can remember. Include details such as the officer’s badge and patrol car numbers and their law enforcement agency.
Obtain witness contact information. If you suffered injuries, get medical attention immediately and photograph your injuries. Keep your medical records.
File a written complaint of any misconduct with the agency’s affairs division or civilian complaint board. Tell your attorney what happened.
Lawyers can help assure that your rights are protected. They can also contest evidence and seek the dismissal of any evidence that was unlawfully obtained.