Featured News 2019 Know Your Rights: What to Do When Approached by the Police

Know Your Rights: What to Do When Approached by the Police

Know Your Rights: What to Do When Approached by the Police

It is safe to assume that you will have some sort of contact with law enforcement. Whether through a routine traffic stop, a checkpoint, or if you need assistance with a problem, it is likely that you will have to interact with a law enforcement official. Though every person’s experience with law enforcement may be different one thing is true for each one—you have rights and you should know them before you need them.

The Right to Remain Silent

Though it sounds like a cliché taken from every show involving the police on television, you must remember that you have the right to remain silent during any interaction with the police. This crucial right protects a person from self-incrimination. A person being detained or questions by police likely does not have a full grasp of the law, and they should not be expected to. So, when a person remains silent while dealing with police, they are waiting to receive legal counsel that will prevent them from self-incrimination. Notably, the right to remain silent does not absolve a person from cooperating with police. Make sure you do not resist arrest, and if you are remaining silent, tell the police of your intent to do so. This will help avoid frustration for all parties involved with the situation.

Unlawful Search & Seizure

You also have the right to protect yourself against an unlawful search and seizure. This right was created during the earliest days of the nation’s development and remains an important protector of personal liberty today. If you are pulled over by the police, you have the right to tell them that they are not allowed to search your vehicle. Similarly, if a police officer knocks on your door, you are not obligated to let them inside of your home as it could be considered a search. In most cases, law enforcement needs a search warrant issued by a judge to accomplish a search without the permission of the person being investigated.

One important allowance to a search without a warrant is probable cause. If a law enforcement official can justify a search without a warrant, they can do so. For example, if you are pulled over and an open alcohol container is clearly visible through your car’s windows, this would be considered probable cause for a legal search by the officer.

Be Polite

It’s always important to remember is your manners while interacting with law enforcement. Be sure to show that you are being cooperative with the police while defending and exercising your rights. Creating an atmosphere of mutual respect will help law enforcement officials work with you instead of against you.

The American Civil Liberties Union has recently compiled a list of steps to remember if you have been placed under arrest.

By following these tips, you will be able to protect your rights and further your case in every possible way:

Never resist arrest

This is a criminal act that can further complicate your mess with additional charges. No matter how unfair you might believe your arrest is, the best thing you can do to protect yourself is to cooperate until you can obtain legal advice.

Verbally exercise your right to silence

Immediately request the presence of your lawyer and inform arresting officers of your intent to remain silent until you have legal help. Do not answer any questions asked by law enforcement before speaking with an attorney.

Request your phone call

If placed under arrest, you have the right to make a call to a local number. If you choose to make this number to your lawyer, the police are not permitted to sit in and listen.


Make sure that there is an emergency plan. Be certain that your children are taken care of, that you have necessary phone numbers memorized, and that you have any medications that you need.

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