Being stopped by the police can be a stressful experience. You may feel overwhelmed and worried about what may happen next. Although we rely on the police to protect us, sometimes we can find ourselves in uncomfortable police encounters. It is important to know your constitutional rights if you are ever stopped by the police. Do not rely on the police to inform you of your rights. The only time a police officer must read a person his or her Miranda rights is when: the person has been placed under arrest and the officer is about to question the person about a crime. Here are the rights you should know and understand to protect you from an unlawful police encounter:
Right to Remain Silent
The familiar “you have the right to remain silent” phrase has roots in the 5th amendment right which protects people from being compelled to give testimony that could incriminate them. You do not have to answer any questions that the police may ask you. The right to remain silent must be invoked by the person in police custody. A person needs to expressively assert their right to remain silent to be protected against self-incrimination. If you are ever found in police custody and are asked any questions, be sure to say “I am going to remain silent”. By saying this, you are affirming your right to remain silent.
Right to Refuse to Consent to Search
According to the 4th amendment, every person is protected from unreasonable searches and seizures. Unless the police have probable cause to believe that you are involved with a crime, they always need your permission to search or seize any of your property. Your property includes anything on your person, your car, or your home. You can never be 100% sure that officers will not find incriminating evidence during a search. It is possible that incriminating evidence could have accidentally gotten into your car or someone could have intentionally planted evidence in your bag. The safest option is to always refuse consent to a search until you have contacted an attorney.
Right to an Attorney
The right to have the assistance of counsel for the accused in all criminal prosecutions is found in the 6th amendment. A suspect in a criminal investigation must be represented by an attorney. Additionally, if the defendant cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed to them by the government. Having an attorney speak on your behalf if you are ever found in police custody and are arrested will make all the difference in your case. If you are arrested, your freedom may be taken from you. To have the best possible outcome, you will need an experienced and knowledgeable attorney to defend you to the court. A good lawyer is your best shot at walking away as a free person.
Our constitutional rights can be the best protector when it comes to dealing with the police. If you or a loved one has experienced an unlawful encounter with a police officer, please call us today to speak with an expert. We are here to fight for your rights!