What Should I Do If Stopped by the Police?

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 What Should I Do if I am Stopped by the Police?

Interacting with law enforcement officers can be a nerve-wracking experience. This is true even for individuals who have not done anything wrong.

The following is a guide for how to interact with law enforcement.

What Do I Do If Police Approach Me While I am on the Street?

If an individual is approached by law enforcement while on the street, it is important to remember that they have the right to remain silent. Law enforcement cannot detain or arrest an individual simply because they choose not to speak to them.

It is important to note that this may appear suspicious and standoffish. One way to handle this is for the individual to simply advise them they are exercising their right to remain silent.

An individual should tell law enforcement the name and address on their driver’s license and be honest. Depending on the type of encounter with police, an individual may not be required to show identification.

If, however, an individual refuses or refuses to provide basic information, they may be arrested. In addition, if they are being ticketed and refuse to show their ID, they may be detained longer than necessary.

Typically it is easier just to provide the information and move forward. An individual may ask if they are free to leave.

If they are, they may politely walk away. If an individual is told they are not free to leave, they may ask why.

If law enforcement asks if they may search an individual or their residence, the individual should ask them to provide a search warrant. There are certain circumstances in which law enforcement can conduct a search without a warrant.

If law enforcement does not have a warrant but they are persistent with their requests to search, the individual should clearly state that they do not consent to being searched. If law enforcement still conducts a search, the individual should not resist but should repeat that they do not consent to the search.

If an individual resists a search, even when that search is illegal, they may be arrested. If an individual is arrested or detained, they should not talk to law enforcement more than necessary.

An individual is not required to provide information regarding their citizenship, employment status, or housing situation. An individual should provide their basic identifying information and then advise law enforcement that they no longer wish to speak with them without their lawyer present.

It is very important to note that an individual must affirmatively state that they want a lawyer. It is not enough for an individual to ask whether they should have a lawyer or state that they think they need a lawyer.

What Do I Do if Police Stop Me in My Car?

If an individual is stopped by law enforcement while driving, there are several steps they should follow. When the officer requests documents such as their license, registration, and proof of insurance, they should provide them.

If the officer requests any other documents, the individual is not required to show them. It is very important for the individual to keep their hands where the office can see them and not to make any sudden movements, especially to attempt to hide evidence.

These situations are just as stressful for the law enforcement officer as they are for the individual being stopped. If the officer has a warrant, they may search your car regardless of whether you consent or not.

If, however, the officer does not have a warrant, an individual should not consent to a search and should indicate their lack of consent verbally. However, they should never physically resist the officer.

If an individual receives a ticket, they should sign it. This does not mean the individual is admitting guilt.

It simply means that they admit they have received a ticket and will pay that ticket or go to court. Being unruly or not complying may result in an individual unnecessarily being arrested.

Once an individual receives a ticket, they can contest it, request an extension, or pay it by the date indicated. If they do not, their driver’s license may be suspended.

If an individual is pulled over on suspicion of driving under the influence (DUI), but are not yet arrested and they are over the age of 21, they are not required to submit to field sobriety tests or handheld breathalyzers.

However, the refusal to submit may result in consequences, such as the suspension of their driver’s license, depending on the state.

Can I Refuse to Stop for Police?

If a police officer requests that an individual pull over and stop, under no circumstances may the individual refuse. Even if the individual believes that the police officer has no valid reason to stop them, they are required to pull over upon request.

So long as the officer can establish probable cause that a violation of an ordinance, law, or traffic safety code was reasonably suspected, then the stop will be considered legal. The best practice is for an individual to find a safe place to pull over and allow the officer to explain why they stopped the vehicle.

If necessary, an individual may show down, turn on their emergency flashers, and find a safe place to stop. In addition, they can call 911 to ensure that they are being pulled over by a legitimate officer.

As previously noted, the driver should provide the officer with the information requested, such as their driver’s license, proof of insurance, and registration. After that, the individual may ask to remain silent and talk to their lawyer.

Once the driver requests their lawyer, the officer cannot question them any further.

What Do I Do if I Am Arrested?

If an individual is arrested, it is most important for an individual to remember that they are entitled to a lawyer, even if they cannot afford one. The individual is required to provide identification information, which may include their legal name, birthday, and address.

As previously noted, only basic information is necessary, not employment or immigration information. Once that is provided, the individual may politely inform them they want to remain silent and request their attorney.

It is essential for an individual to always be honest. They should not make up stories or alibis.

The individual should not try to explain their side of the store or how law enforcement does not have a full understanding of the situation. Law enforcement has heard all of these types of statements before and will have already determined whether there is enough evidence to arrest the individual.

At this point, anything an individual says will likely not help their case. An individual is entitled to 3 phone calls within 3 hours of their arrest.

If an individual has children, they are entitled to 2 more phone calls to ensure they are taken care of. An individual may want to talk to a friend or significant other but they should choose wisely who they decide to call.

An individual may want to call their lawyer, if they have one, or a bail bond office so they can be released. Everyone should be aware that law enforcement does make recordings of these phone calls.

The only calls that cannot be monitored are those with an individual’s attorney. What an individual says on the phone may be admissible against them in court.

Should I Seek Legal Advice?

This information is only a basic guide to help you interact with law enforcement. If you are facing a criminal charge, you should contact a criminal lawyer immediately.

It is important to remember that, when you are interacting with law enforcement officers, they are professionals who have a job to do and certain steps they are required to take to complete that job. You should remain respectful while remembering the boundaries they must respect.

If law enforcement conducts an illegal stop or search, your attorney can have the charges dropped or evidence excluded. If, however, an individual acts up during their interaction with law enforcement, they may face additional charges their lawyer cannot get dropped.

Therefore, it is important to remember that, although it may be a stressful experience, the best practice is to remain respectful and calm while voicing any objections you may have. Most importantly, state you want your attorney.


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