Any encounter with the police can be intimidating. But everyone has constitutional rights and knowing these rights may be important role for your criminal defense.

General rights

  • Everyone may stay silent. You must say that you want to remain silent.
  • You may refuse to agree to a search of your vehicle, your home or yourself.
  • You may speak to an attorney if you are arrested. Ask to speak to an attorney as soon as possible.
  • You are not required to and should not say or sign anything without speaking to an attorney if you are arrested.

Stopped for questioning 

  • Ask if you may leave. If police say yes, calmly and quietly leave.
  • If you are arrested, you have the right to know the reason.
  • You do not have to agree to a search of yourself or your belongings. Police may pat down your clothing upon suspicion that you have a weapon. You should not resist but you may refuse any further searches.

Car stop

Stop in a safe area. Turn off your vehicle, turn on the internal light, open the window partially and place your hands on the wheel.

  • Show your driver’s license, registration and proof of insurance upon request.
  • You may refuse a request to look inside your vehicle. Police may search your vehicle without your consent if they believe that it contains evidence of a crime.
  • Drivers and passengers may remain silent. Passenger may leave with police permission.

Police come to your home   

  • Police cannot enter without warrants.
  • Ask the police to slip any warrant under the door or hold it up to a window for inspection.
  • Search warrants allow police to enter the listed address, but they may only search areas and items listed on the warrant.
  • Arrest warrants allow police to enter the premises of the person listed on the warrant if they believe that the person is inside.

Your duties 

  • Stay calm and polite.
  • Do not interfere with police or resist arrest even if they may have violated your rights.
  • Do not lie or give any false information.
  • Remember details.
  • Do not give any explanations or excuses if you are arrested.
  • If you believe police violated your rights, write down badge and patrol car numbers, Obtain witness contact information. Take pictures of any injuries after treatment.

Speaking to an attorney as soon as possible helps assure that these rights are protected.