A criminal defense attorney is well-versed in your constitutional and legal rights during encounters with law enforcement. Many people, however, don’t know what their rights are. At Bushway & Waystack, it’s our job not only to defend you in the event of a criminal trial, but also to make sure you understand how police should and shouldn’t treat you.
The American Civil Liberties Union is a great resource for information about your rights as a resident of the U.S. and provides a booklet to educate you on your basic rights. This Bushway & Waystack blog posts covers the ACLU’s advice for encounters with law enforcement.
If Police Stop You on the Street, Your Defense Attorney Says…
- You don’t have to answer any questions.
- You may ask, “Am I free to go?” and walk away.
- If you are not free to go, but are not under arrest, you’re being detained. Officers can detain you briefly to ask questions or pat you down. You do not have to answer any questions.
- Police can only detain you if they have “reasonable suspicion” that you are armed or dangerous. Reasonable suspicion means law enforcement has an objective reason to suspect a crime is being or could be committed.
If Police Stop You in Your Car, Your Defense Attorney Says…
- If an officer asks to see your driver’s license, registration, and proof of insurance, you must show these documents.
- An officer may ask you and your passengers to exit the vehicle. If the officer begins to question you, you do not have to answer any questions.
- Unless the officer has “probable cause” or your consent, he or she cannot search your vehicle. Probable cause means knowledge of facts sufficient to support reasonable belief that a crime has been or will be committed.
- Refusing to allow an officer to search your car is not basis for a search or arrest.
If You Are Arrested, Your Defense Attorney Says…
- Law enforcement must inform you of your Miranda Rights. Exercise all of these rights, even if police fail to mention them.
- You have the right to a phone call within a reasonable time of your arrest.
- You have the right to be taken before a judge as soon as possible.
For more information about how to handle encounters with police, visit the American Civil Liberties Union website.
At Bushway & Waystack, we take your rights seriously. Learn more about how we can protect you.