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If You are Stopped by Police PDF Print E-mail

Knowing and exercising your rights, granted in the federal Constitution can keep you out of jail. Here are some tips.

 The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution protects Americans from illegal searches and seizures. More often than not when a police officer wants to search you they have no right to, unless they have a warrant or reasonable suspicion that you have violated a law.

Police cannot search your vehicle if you have violated a traffic ordinance. However, if your car has cannabis smoke billowing out of it, the officer can assume that cannabis is being consumed in that car and can search your vehicle. Also police can call for a drug sniffing dog to sniff the outside of your car for ANY traffic violation. Beware of compound questions like "You don't have anything illegal in your car, so you won't mind if I look around a little bit." Most people respond immediately to the first question about illegal substances but in reality by saying "No" you have just consented to a search of your vehicle and person. Retain your Fourth Amendment right to be secure in your person, vehicle, property and effects.

 The Fifth Amendment protects Americans from incriminating themselves. You have the right to remain silent and anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. Sound familiar? Do not give any info that is not necessary to the officer, even if they seem "cool and friendly" it is their job to arrest people and they might let you off the hook if you are honest about that pipe and bag in your pocket but they also might take you to jail. So do not risk it, just remain silent and cooperate as much as you must in order to be allowed to leave. When in doubt ask politely, "Am I under arrest? May I go now?"

 For more info check out Flex Your Rights

    Police officers expect full cooperation when they stop an individual for questioning or other work-related matters. The American Civil Liberties Union offers this advice for instances when a police officer wants to question you.

    *Think carefully about your words, movement, body language and emotions.

    *Don't get into an argument.

    *Remember, anything you say or do can be used against you.

    *Keep your hands where the police can see them.

    *Don't run.

    *Don't touch any police officer.

    *Don't resist, even if you believe you are innocent.

    *Don't complain on the scene or tell the police officer they're wrong or that you're going to file a complaint.

    *Do not make any statements regarding the incident.

    *Ask for a lawyer immediately upon your arrest.

    *Remember the officer's badge and patrol car numbers.

    *Write down everything you remember as soon as possible.

    *Try to find witnesses and their names and phone numbers.

    *If you are injured, take photographs of the injuries as soon as possible, but make sure you seek medical attention first.

    *If you feel your rights have been violated, file a complaint with the Police Department's internal affairs division or civilian complaint board.

Full text: "Know Your Rights: What to Do If You're Stopped by the Police," 7.30.2004    http://www.aclu.org/racial-justice/know-your-rights-bustcard

Spanish version:  http://www.aclu.org/racial-justice/know-your-rights-bustcard-spanish

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 27 April 2010 )
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