The following information is not intended as legal advice. Rights, rules, and regulations will vary from state to state, as well as for members of the military.
Know that you have a right to...
- be silent, as long as you cooperate when identifying yourself. If you wish to exercise this right to silence, say so.
- say "no" if police ask to search your car or belongings (without a warrant).
- leave if you are not being detained.
- know why you have been arrested or detained.
- speak privately with a lawyer without delay, even if you cannot afford to pay.
- know an officer's name and badge number.
- make a local phone call if arrested.
- refuse a breathalyzer test, although your license will be irreversibly suspended.
- observe, record, or videotape an officer, even if you are a bystander on the street, without interfering with the ongoing interaction.
- report abusive police or their abusive behavior.
- Police have the legal right to lie, bluff, or intimidate you.
- Officers must tell you why you have been stopped or articulate observed suspicions.
- You may only be strip-searched in private by an officer of the same sex.
- Although you do not have to consent to a search, police may complete a "pat-down" to ensure their own safety.
- If stopped in a car, an officer may ask you to step out of the car to ensure their own safety.
- If stopped in a car, passengers have the right to remain silent, too.
- If police do believe there is contraband inside your car, it may be searched without your consent.
- If arrested or detained, police may not listen into calls with your lawyer.
- Regardless of immigration or citizenship status, you have Constitutional rights.
- Police misconduct may not be challenged on the street. Never resist or fight back.
- Remember the details of your encounter.
- Never lie. Never give false documents.
- Do not interfere with or obstruct the police.
- Never secretly record the police.
- Ask for clarification as to whether something is an order or a request.
- Refusing to consent to searches or answer incriminating sources are not admissions to guilt or reasons for detainment.
- If you are free, ask to leave. The best police interactions are short and sweet.
- If in a car, park the car safely, but as quickly as possible.
- If in a car, once parked, turn off the car, turn on your internal lights, open the window part way, and put your hands on the wheel.
- If in a car, provide the officer with your driver's license, registration, or proof of insurance upon request. And then tell the officer where you're reaching and what for. If something is buried deeper inside a compartment or bag, make the officer aware of that.
"Officer, if I am under arrest or being detained, please let me know. If I am free to go, please let me know. If I am not free to go, please tell me why. I wish to exercise all my legal rights, including my right to silence and my right to speak with a lawyer before I say anything more to you. I do not consent to be searched. I wish to be released without delay. Please do not ask me questions, because I will not willingly talk to you until I speak to a lawyer. Thank you for respecting my rights."
SOURCES & ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:
American Civil Liberties Union
Flex Your Rights
Online Paralegal Programs