How to Flex Your Rights during Police Encounters
In any given police encounter, with a few notable exceptions, the below rules will help protect your civil rights and improve your chances of driving or walking away safely—so you don’t have to be a legal expert to say and do the right thing.
1). Keep Your Private Items Out of View
2). Be Courteous & Non-Confrontational
The first thing you should say to the officer is, “Hello officer. Can you tell me why I am being pulled over?” The officer may give you a hard time or say, “Why do you think I pulled you over?” Tell the officer you don’t know. Most importantly, do not apologize after you get stopped, because that can be considered an admission of guilt and could be used against you later in court.
Show your identification if it’s requested. Be respectful and non-confrontational. Refer to the police as “Sir,” “Ma’am,” or “Officer.” Remain calm and quiet while the officer is reviewing your documents. If the officer writes you a ticket, accept it quietly and never complain. Listen to any instruction on paying the fine or contesting the ticket, and drive away slowly.
3). Just Say “No” to Warrantless Searches
A majority of avoidable police searches occur because citizens naively waive their Fourth Amendment rights by consenting to warrantless searches. As a general rule, if a person consents to a warrantless search, the search automatically becomes reasonable and therefore legal. Consequently, whatever an officer finds during such a search can be used to convict the person.
Don’t expect a police officer to tell you about your right not to consent. Police officers are not required by law to inform you of your rights before asking you to consent to a search. In addition, police officers are trained to use their authority to get people to consent to a search, and most people are predisposed to comply with any request a police officer makes. For example, the average motorist stopped by a police officer who asks them, “Would you mind if I search your vehicle, please?” will probably consent to the officer’s search without realizing that they have every right to deny the officer’s request.
If, for any reason you don’t want the officer digging through your belongings, you should refuse to consent by saying something like, “Officer, I know you want to do your job, but I do not consent to any searches of my private property.” If the officer still proceeds to search you and find illegal contraband, your attorney can argue that the contraband was discovered through an illegal search and hence should be thrown out of court.
You should never hesitate to assert your constitutional rights. Just say “no!”
4). Determine if You Can Leave
If the officer says “Yes,” tell him to have a nice day, and leave immediately. If the officer’s answer is ambiguous, or if he asks you another unrelated question, persist by asking “am I being detained, or can I go now?” If the officer says “No,” you are being detained, and you may be placed under arrest. If this is the case, reassert your rights as outlined above, and follow Rules #5 and #6.
5). Do Not Answer Questions without Your Attorney Present
In just about any case imaginable, a person is best off not answering any questions about his involvement in anything illegal. Assert your Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights by saying these exact words: “Officer, I have nothing to say until I speak with a lawyer.”
6). Do Not Physically Resist
Information provided by: http://www.flexyourrights.org
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Sources: The above information has been collected from various websites.
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