In any encounter with the police, it is vital to understand your rights and have a plan of action ready to go. The police may use your unfamiliarity with the law to control the situation and gather evidence which may be used against you. For example, did you know that the police cannot automatically search your vehicle and that field sobriety tests are voluntary? Below, our blog covers five steps to take which can help you to stay safe when dealing with the police
- Limit what you say: Whether you have been pulled over while driving or stopped while walking down the road, the police might ask you questions about what you are doing. You might think that if you just explain what happened, then the police will let you go. Resist the urge to do so. Law enforcement may be building a case from the moment they spot you and any information you give may be used against you. If the police continue their questioning, state that you are exercising your Fifth Amendment right to remain silent.
- Do not participate in a field sobriety test: In cases where you are driving and police suspect that you are intoxicated, you may be asked to take a field sobriety test. What you may not know is that these tests are completely voluntary and you do not have to participate. You will not be subjected to additional punishments for refusing a sobriety test. While it may raise an officer's suspicions, if they have decided to arrest you for driving under the influence (DUI), there may be little you can do to stop it. Taking a sobriety test only serves to provide officers with information to support the case against you.
- Do not consent to a search: The police do not automatically possess the right to conduct a search of your personal property, including your vehicle. In order to search your car or your person, police need a warrant, probable cause, or your consent. It may feel wrong to deny this request, but you are well within your right to do so. Additionally, if an officer does engage in an unlawful search, any evidence which is found may not be admissible in court.
- Comply with basic requests: While you do not have to answer questions about your personal business, it is important to comply with certain requests. For example, if the police ask you to pull over and provide identifying and insurance information, you should do so. If you are asked to keep your hands on the wheel, again, you should comply.
- Remain polite: Law enforcement will be watching for suspicious behavior and by remaining calm, you can help to show police that you have nothing to hide. Furthermore, maintaining a polite and courteous demeanor can reduce the chances of an officer interpreting your actions as resistant, violent, or hostile.
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Whether you are facing misdemeanor or felony charges, saying the wrong thing can land you in serious trouble with the law, even if you have done nothing wrong. Remember, you have the right to legal representation and you do not have to talk to law enforcement without your attorney present. At the Law Offices of Kyle K. Shaw, PLLC we possess more than 15 years of legal experience and have a proven track record of securing reduced charges and acquittals. You do not have to navigate the criminal justice system alone. Contact our Allen criminal defense attorney and rest assured knowing that your defense is in experienced hands.
Schedule a free consultation to learn about your possible defenses.