Knowing your rights in any situation is important but there are few instances where it becomes imperative when interacting with law enforcement and especially when it comes to arrests. Most know that they have the right to abstain from speaking but there are other rights everyone has that may not be as understood. In order to help decipher, here are the main ones to know.
Questions are allowed
Sometimes it’s evident why you are being pulled over or being stopped by an officer but if for any reason you may not understand what law you have broken or why you are being detained, it is always ok to ask the officer why. The key is to however be calm and respectful. Any aggressive demeanor can be mistaken and be misinterpreted so for all parties involved, it is just best to keep your cool.
You can decline interrogation
Investigators will want to ask questions to get a better understanding of what has transpired but it can be a slippery slope to answering them. This is because sometimes the questions can feel like they are leading you to answer in a certain way and that information can be used against you in court. In order to protect yourself, it is best to refrain from answering questions until you have a lawyer present who can represent and guide your best interests and keep you from damaging your own case.
You can say no to being searched
In the heat of the moment, it’s completely understandable that one may not think to say no but if a police officer demands to search your vehicle or property, you are actually able to say no. If you do, however, most likely they will work to obtain a search warrant but before that happens, legally you do have the right to say no to being searched.
Keep your recordings safe
Now more than ever, recordings of police interactions have been used to hold accountability in dangerous situations. For most of law enforcement, this is not an issue but there may be some instances where they demand the deletion of footage that could cause issues. If this occurs, you fo have the right to say no and if you are concerned about having to delete it anyway, there are apps such as the Mobile Justice app that will take footage and instantly upload it to the cloud to avoid this scenario.
Lawyers are available even if you can’t afford one
Hiring private lawyers are extremely expensive, especially when dealing with all the other costs that come with an arrest. However if you do not have the resources to hire a lawyer, you are able to apply for a public defender at no cost or at least greatly subsidized. While this is based on an income bracket, if for any reason the application is declined, there is still a chance that private lawyers may take on the case pro bono.