If a police officer stops you for questioning, you can maintain your rights by:
- Remaining calm and respectful. Keep your hands visible at all times, and don’t try to evade police contact.
- If you’re stopped while driving, show your driver’s license, registration and proof of insurance if the officer requests them.
- Remember your Miranda rights. You have the right to remain silent. If you don’t want to answer their questions, politely inform the police officer that you are exercising that right.
- Politely ask why you were stopped and if you are under arrest. You have the right to leave if you aren’t under arrest. If you are under arrest, you have the right to an attorney. Call us before you say anything else to the police officers.
The police may request to search you, your vehicle, or your home, but you retain the right to refuse. In most cases, a search warrant is required to proceed with the search. If you give them permission, a warrant is not required.
Other circumstances that do not require a warrant include:
- Searches incident to arrest. Law enforcement officials have the ability to search your body and clothing for weapons or contraband when placing you under arrest.
- Vehicle searches. If arrested while in a vehicle, law enforcement may search specific areas of the vehicle. To search within locked compartments such as the glove box or the vehicle trunk, probable cause is needed.
- Plain view. If an officer sees an object in plain view, and has the lawful right to be in a position to have seen the object, a warrant is not required to obtain the evidence.
- Emergency situations. In some emergency situations, police have the right to conduct searches if they feel that immediate action must be taken to prevent the destruction of evidence.
If law enforcement have a reasonable belief that you committed a crime (e.g., the officer witness you committing the crime) or other probable cause, an arrest may be made without a warrant.
When placed under arrest, you have certain rights afforded to you including the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney. You are not required to speak with any officer or investigator until after you have consulted with your lawyer.