Most people when getting pulled over probably know the basics such as the right to remain silent in some cases but in the heat of the moment, may not understand what their actual rights are in terms of searching and compliance. In order to help better understand what rights you have when interacting with law enforcement, here are the most important points.
You are allowed to ask questions
If you are truly confused about why you are being pulled over or stopped then you have every right to ask the officer what the reasoning is. It is of course best however to not take an aggressive stance on this because it can lead to defensiveness as well as misinterpretations. So for everyone’s safety and to keep situations from escalating, it’s important to be respectful.
Have a lawyer before talking to law enforcement
We have all heard the saying “You have the right to remain silent” but what does that actually mean? Well, it means that when law enforcement starts asking questions, you have the right not to speak about it until after you obtain a lawyer who is present. This doesn’t mean you can avoid giving basic information and you will still have to answer questions eventually, but a lawyer can help guide you through so you don’t end up answering leading questions that could hurt your case.
You have to consent to searches
It is not uncommon for a police officer to search a suspect’s car or belongings but many may not know that they have the ability to decline to let this happen. If you do not consent to be searched, you have the right to say so but they may in turn petition for a search warrant. If this happens, at that point you will legally have to let them search.
Many issues with law enforcement have been made public with the increase of the public videotaping incidents. For this reason, it is not surprising that sometimes a police officer may demand that the footage be deleted. This however is not always a legal request. You have the right to record incidents but if you are worried about forced deletion, you can use apps such as the Mobile Justice app that will automatically upload the footage to the cloud to keep safe.
You can get a lawyer even if you can’t afford one
Everyone has a right to a fair trial and fair representation. Most people are not able to afford to hire a private lawyer in addition to paying all the fines and fees that come with an arrest. To make things fairer to people in all economic situations, courts will assign public defenders at no cost or at a subsidized cost for those that fit within a certain economic bracket. You do have to apply but most are approved if they don’t have the resources, and if for some reason you are declined, it is also worth it to contact lawyers in the area to see if they may work with you pro bono.