It is crucial to know your rights when interacting with law enforcement officers. What you do and say during your initial contact with the authorities can have lasting impacts on the outcome of your case. Some helpful tips are below.
If you are stopped by law enforcement:
- You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in court. In order to invoke this right, you must tell the officer that you do not want to speak to him or her. Be respectful, but firm, when invoking your right to remain silent.
- You have the right to an attorney before and during any questioning. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed to assist you. In order to invoke this right, you must tell the officer that you want an attorney.
- You have the right to refuse to be searched or have your property searched. There are, however, situations where law enforcement can search you or your property without consent. Thus, while you should make clear that you do not consent to the search, you must not resist the search.
- You do NOT have the right to resist arrest even if you believe the arrest is “illegal.” You must obey the officer’s commands. If you fail to follow the officer’s commands, you may be arrested on additional charges.