If a member of law enforcement questions you, it is important that you fully understand your rights. You should be careful about what you say to law enforcement officials. If you choose to answer a law enforcement agent, please be aware that your answers can be used against you in a court of law. Please review the following Q&A to help you understand your rights.
You do not have to answer any questions. It is in your best interest to remain as calm as possible. You may state, "I do not want to talk to you" and calmly walk away. If you doubt this will be successful or put you in an uncomfortable position, you may ask the law enforcement agent are you go to free. Do not run from law enforcement. If the law enforcement agent informs you that you are not under arrest, but not free to go--you are being detained. Being detained is not an arrest, but please be aware that your detainment could lead to an arrest. Law enforcement agents can pat you down outside of your clothing only if they have "reasonable suspicion" such as an objective reason to suspect that you may be armed and dangerous.
If they search anything else outside of this, clearly state, " I do not consent to a search." If the law enforcement agent continues to search, do not physically resist the agent. You do not have to answer any questions if you are detained or placed under arrest. The law enforcement agent may ask for your name once you have been detained and if you refuse to provide your name in some states you can be arrested.
Please keep your hands where the police can them. The best place to place your hands is on the steering wheel. If it is dark, turn on the lights inside of your car then place your hands on the steering wheel. You must show proof of insurance if you are asked for these documents. Law enforcement agents can also ask you to step outside of the car, and they may separate passengers and drivers to question them and compare their answers. The police cannot search your vehicle unless you give them your consent, which you do not have to give, or unless they have "probable cause" to believe that criminal activity has taken place, that you have been involved in a crime, and/or that you have evidence of a crime in your car. If you do not want your car searched, clearly state that you do not consent. The law enforcement agent cannot use your refusal to give consent as a basis for searching.
The law enforcement agent must advise you of your constitutional rights to remain silent, to an attorney, and to have an attorney appointed if you cannot afford one. You should exercise all of these rights, even if the law enforcement agent does not tell you about them. Do not tell the law enforcement anything except your name. If you say anything else beyond stating your name, can and will be used against you. Ask to see a lawyer immediately. Within a reasonable amount of time after your rest and booking, you have the right to a phone call. Law enforcement agents may not listen to a call you make to your lawyer, but they can listen to calls you make to other people. You must be taken before a judge as soon as possible, which is generally within 48 hours of your arrest at the latest.
No. If you are arrested, you do not have to answer any questions or volunteer any information. You have the right to remain silent. Ask for a lawyer right away. Repeat this request to every law enforcement agent who tries to talk or question you. You should always talk to a lawyer before you decide to answer any questions.
Write down and/or memorize the law enforcement agent's badge number, name or other identifying information. You have a right to ask the law enforcement agent for this information. Try to find witnesses to collect their names and phone numbers. If you are injured, seek medical attention and take pictures of the injuries as soon as you possibly can.
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