Any interaction with the police can be stressful and scary — regardless of whether or not you have done anything wrong. When dealing with the police, there are several things you should keep in mind in order to help keep the interaction from escalating.
The main thing that you should remember during your encounter with the police is that the officer who stopped you has a job to do and a family to go home to after their shift is over. The officer will protect themself from any perceived threats coming from you – the officer does not know you, and you do not know them, so neither of you know how the other is going to react to certain actions. That is why it is crucial to remain calm and respectful during this interaction.
If you are dealing with the police and you need legal representation, contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as you are able.
7 Things to Remember When Dealing with the Police
If you remember these tips when you get stopped, you could avoid a lot of heartaches, including the use of force and maybe even going to jail, depending on your circumstances.
1. Remain Calm, Cool, and Collected
Becoming agitated will only make things harder for everyone. If you start acting nervous or start fidgeting, the police officer will become suspicious and will have reason to remove you from the vehicle and request a search of the vehicle.
2. Remember Your Rights
You do not have to answer a police officer’s questions once you advise them that you would like legal representation. You do not have to agree to searches other than the officer patting you down to ensure that you do not have something on your person that could harm the officer. However, you must tell the officer your name and that you want an attorney, and that you do not agree to a vehicle or home search without a warrant.
If the officer is going to arrest you, they must read you your Miranda Rights if they are going to ask you any questions. If an officer puts you in the police car, it could be for your own safety. You should always ask the officer if you are being detained. They are legally required to respond to that question.
3. Do Not Touch an Officer
If you are behaving in a dangerous or belligerent manner, the police have the right to restrain you. You can avoid unnecessary restraint by keeping your hands where the officer can see them, listening to what the officer says, and never touching an officer. Even if the conversation is not tense, and you reach out to touch the officer in a friendly manner, this could be perceived as a threat, causing the situation to escalate quickly.
4. Do Not Confess to Anything
A police officer can and will use anything you tell them against you in a court of law. An officer can also lie to you in order to get you to talk. They are legally allowed to say, “You won’t get in trouble if you just tell me what happened,” but then still arrest you. While it is up to you if you want to answer the officer’s questions, we do not recommend it. However, you must let the officer know that you want legal representation if you decline to answer the officer’s questions. It must be very clear that you want a lawyer for them to stop talking to you. If you say, “I think I want a lawyer,” that is not enough. Always be firm, but respectful. “I will not answer any more questions until I speak to my lawyer.”
You can remain silent but never lie to a police officer. If the officer does arrest you, they will use your lies against you. It will be in their report, and the prosecutor will read that report. It could affect your court case if you lie to a police officer.
5. Report Police Misconduct
If you believe the police officer is not treating you fairly, do not talk back or fight the officer. You can report the misconduct later. Verbally or physically resisting the officer can be perceived as resisting arrest, which just results in another charge against you. It could also mean that you suffer injuries since the police can restrain you. Keep track of anything they do that could be considered misconduct, and as soon as you are able, write it all down.
6. Be Mindful During Consensual Encounters
If an officer asks if they can speak with you, you can decline, or you agree to speak with the officer. However, keep in mind that the officer is always looking for something you might have done. The officer might have a suspicion that you did something wrong, but no proof. Be polite whether you choose to speak to the officer or not. If you decline, you can arrange to speak to the officer later with your attorney present if you suspect the officer is suspicious of your behavior.
7. Community Caretaker Encounters
If an officer sees behavior that might indicate you have a medical problem, they have the right to ask you if you are okay. You might be having a stroke, diabetic reaction, or a heart attack. You can tell the officer that you are fine and ask if you can leave.
However, if you are slumped over your steering wheel because you are passed out drunk, the officer has the right to treat you with reasonable suspicion. In this case, the officer will treat you as if they stopped you for driving under the influence. You should act accordingly if this happens during a community caretaker encounter.
Dealing With The Police? Contact a Criminal Defense Attorney
If police stopped you and arrested you, contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. If the officer is not arresting you but wants to speak with you in a consensual encounter, you can also refuse until you have your attorney present.