To effectively avoid staying out trouble with the police you need to know your rights. There are some things you should do, some things you must do and some things you cannot do. If you are in the middle of a police encounter, you may need a handy and quick reference to remind you of your rights and obligations.
If necessary you can print this entry and carry it in your wallet, pocket or glove compartment to give you quick access to your rights and obligations concerning police encounters.
Be polite and respectful. Never bad-mouth a police officer.
Stay calm and in control of your words, body language and emotions. Think about what you say or do before you speak or act.
Don’t get into an argument with the police. If anything be overly nice and polite. Sometimes being super polite will be more effective and irritate people more than getting upset with them. Be nice!
Remember, anything you say or do can be used against you. So shut up and say as little as possible. You have the right to remain silent, so take advantage of this.
Keep your hands where the police can see them.
Don’t run. Don’t touch any police officer. They love to nail people for resisting arrest or assault.
Don’t resist even if you believe you are innocent.
Don’t complain on the scene or tell the police they’re wrong or that you’re going to file a complaint. File the complaint later on when you can walk into the police station and talk to a supervisor.
Do not make any statements regarding the incident. The police often have tape recorders in their pockets and will try to use anything you say against you. They do not have to read you your rights until you are arrested. Before your arrest they are just investigating the situation and treating you as a witness. Often times your own words are used as the best evidence against you. They are not obligated to read you your rights until your actual arrest. Ask for a lawyer immediately upon your arrest.
Remember officers’ badge & patrol car numbers.
Write down everything you remember ASAP.
Try to find witnesses & their names & phone numbers.
If you are injured, take photographs of the injuries as soon as possible, but make sure you seek medical attention first.
If you feel your rights have been violated, file a written complaint with police department’s internal affairs division or civilian complaint board.
1. What you say to the police is always important. What you say can be used against you, and it can give the police an excuse to arrest you, especially if you bad-mouth a police officer. Remember that police often hide tape-recorders in their pockets or video cameras on their car as proof of your and their actions. If you do something wrong they will have it recorded, if they do something wrong then the tape will go missing.
2. You don’t have to answer a police officer’s questions, but you must show your driver’s license and registration when stopped in a car. In other situations, you can’t legally be arrested for refusing to identify yourself to a police officer. However, you can be arrested for providing fake identification. Never give them your social security number even after being taken in and arrested.
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 the police say they have a search warrant, ASK TO SEE IT. If they have probable cause they can search your car, but still try to contest it, make it clear that you do NOT want them to search.
4. Do not interfere with, or obstruct the police — you can be arrested for it.
1. It’s not a crime to refuse to answer questions, but refusing to answer can make the police suspicious about you. You can’t be arrested merely for refusing to identify yourself on the street.
2. Police 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.
3. Ask if you are under arrest. If you are, you have a right to know why.
4. Don’t bad-mouth the police officer or run away, even if you believe what is happening is unreasonable. That could lead to your arrest.
1. Upon request, show them your driver’s license, registration, and proof of insurance. In certain cases, your car can be searched without a warrant as long as the police have probable cause. To protect yourself later, you should make it clear that you do not consent to a search. It is not lawful for police to arrest you simply for refusing to consent to a search.
2. If you’re given a ticket, you should sign it; otherwise you can be arrested. You can always fight the case in court later.
3. If you’re suspected of drunk driving (DWI) and refuse to take a blood, urine or breath test, your driver’s license may be suspended.
1. If the police knock and ask to enter your home, you don’t have to admit them unless they have a warrant signed by a judge.
2. However, in some emergency situations (like when a person is screaming for help inside, or when the police are chasing someone) officers are allowed to enter and search your home without a warrant.
3. If you are arrested, the police can search you and the area close by. If you are in a building, “close by” usually means just the room you are in.
We all recognize the need for effective law enforcement, but we should also understand our own rights and responsibilities — especially in our relationships with the police. Everyone, including minors, has the right to courteous and respectful police treatment.
If your rights are violated, don’t try to deal with the situation at the scene. You can discuss the matter with an attorney afterwards, or file a complaint with the Internal Affairs or Civilian Complaint Board.
IF YOU’RE ARRESTED OR TAKEN TO A POLICE STATION
1. You have the right to remain silent and to talk to a lawyer before you talk to the police. Tell the police nothing except your name and address. Don’t give any explanations, excuses or stories. You can make your defense later, in court, based on what you and your lawyer decide is best.
2. Ask to see a lawyer immediately. If you can’t pay for a lawyer, you have a right to a free one, and should ask the police how the lawyer can be contacted. Don’t say anything without a lawyer.
3. Within a reasonable time after your arrest, or booking, you have the right to make a local phone call: to a lawyer, bail bondsman, a relative or any other person. The police may not listen to the call to the lawyer.
4. Sometimes you can be released without bail, or have bail lowered. Have your lawyer ask the judge about this possibility. You must be taken before the judge on the next court day after arrest.
5. Do not make any decisions in your case until you have talked with a lawyer.
6. They have to provide you with one or more (sometimes unlimited) phone calls. Use these calls to call a bails bondman or a lawyer to get you out. You can alo call a friend or family member to bail you out.