In light of the recent violent episodes experienced across the country, it is more important than ever to know how to interact with law enforcement appropriately. While we understand that police misconduct does occur, we advise you to always comply with the orders of law enforcement. As a criminal defense law firm, we know how important complying with police officers is in order to keep you and those around you safe. While we advise you to comply with the police, we also advise you to learn how to best interact with law enforcement and to have a firm understanding of your rights. Read on to learn the most crucial tips for safely dealing with the police.
Dealing with the Police
In general, police interactions can be divided into three categories.
- The police approach you in a public space.
- The police approach you in a private place like your home.
- The police approach you while you are in your car.
While most individuals are approached by police while in their car for traffic violations, the other two police interactions are pretty common too. Law enforcement officers are trained to notice things others do not. They may approach you if they think something you are doing seems off, suspicious, or breaking the law in some manner. In some cases, you will have done nothing wrong. Even if this is the case, you must continue to be respectful and compliant with the police. Along with being compliant, it is in your best interest to know and follow the following tips when interacting with the police in any situation.
1. Remain Level Headed
Even if you haven’t done anything wrong, being approached by the police can bring about a number of complex emotions. While being pulled over or approached by the police can be nerve-wracking, you must remain level-headed. Throughout the encounter, it is important to remain calm and cool. Keeping a level head while dealing with the police will allow the whole encounter to be dealt with calmly and efficiently. Becoming overly nervous or fidgety can give officers even more reason to be more suspicious of your behavior.
2. Keep Your Hands in View At All Times
Along with remaining level-headed, it is essential to keep your hands in view at all times when dealing with the police. Police officers are trained to react quickly and restrain anyone who is behaving dangerously or in a belligerent manner. For your own safety, always keep your hands visible. If you are in your vehicle, keep your hands resting on the steering wheel.
3. Remember Your Rights
While you must remain calm and respectful when dealing with the police, you also need to remember that you have rights. You do not have to agree to unlawful searches, nor do you have to answer questions out of fear.
4. You Have a Right to Know What You are Being Stopped For
When dealing with the police, you do have a right to know what you are being stopped for. You can politely ask officers why they have stopped you. You can also ask the officer if you’re being detained or free to go. Police officers are legally required to answer if you are being detained or not.
5. Remember that You Can Refuse Most Searches
When dealing with the police, they may ask to search you, your home, or your vehicle. During this encounter, remember that you have the right to refuse most searches. You have the right to demand a warrant for any time of police search. Never let an officer enter your home without a warrant. However, an officer can perform a “pat down” without a warrant if they fear you have a weapon. It is in your best interest to comply with a simple “pat down.”
6. Do Not Confess to Any Crimes
If an officer starts to question you during an encounter, never confess to any crimes during this interaction. Everything you say to an officer can and will be used against you in a court of law. Therefore, it is important to say as little as possible while dealing with the police. Simply state out loud that you wish to remain silent and ask for legal representation immediately.
7. Don’t Argue With Officers
The final critical tip to follow when dealing with police officers is to not argue. Never argue or physically resist officers. It is best to remain calm and say as little as possible in these interactions. If misconduct is committed by law enforcement, you can contact a civil rights attorney after the encounter is over. For your own safety, never escalate a police encounter by arguing with officers.
Consult with an Experienced Attorney Today
If you believe your civil rights have been infringed upon while dealing with the police, seek legal guidance immediately. An experienced attorney will be able to walk you through this process and help you reach the best-case scenario. Remember, always stay safe!
Reach out today for a free consultation to discuss your case.