Even law-abiding citizens find themselves feeling nervous when stopped by police. In part, people may feel anxiety when interacting with law enforcement because they may not fully understand their rights when pulled over.
Whether you know your rights or not, you have many rights when police decide to stop your vehicle. However, if you have concerns regarding your treatment after being stopped by the police, you may want to seek legal help.
Do the Police Have the Right to Search You?
Police do not have the right to search you unless you are under arrest, or they have a warrant to do so. Therefore, if the police search you without a warrant or your permission, any evidence they might obtain during the search should later be considered inadmissible in court.
Your right to be free from illegal search and seizures is protected under the U.S. Constitution’s Fourth Amendment. However, police do have the authority to pat you down without putting you under arrest and without a valid warrant if they believe you may be carrying a weapon.
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Do I Have the Right to Record Police?
When law enforcement stops you, you have the right to take pictures and videos of the interaction as long as you do not interfere with police responsibilities. It does not matter whether you are a part of the police interaction or if you are a passerby. Police do not have the authority to demand that you delete pictures or videos. In addition, you are under no obligation to turn over your phone unless the police have a warrant.
If police request that you stop recording or delete any images or videos you took, you can inform them of your rights. However, this could escalate the situation depending on the details of your case. Your best option will be to contact your attorney and potentially file a complaint about police misconduct afterward.
Do I Have the Right to Remain in My Vehicle?
If the police ask you to get out of your vehicle, you have the right to decline their request. Refusing to step out of your vehicle may escalate the situation, but you do have the right to refuse.
In addition, passengers have the right to ask police if they can leave the scene. So, if you are a passenger in a stopped vehicle, you can exercise this right to ask to remove yourself from the situation. If police agree, you can do leave the scene and contact a criminal defense lawyer for the driver.
Drivers and passengers have the right to remain silent when police attempt to ask questions. You may request to contact your attorney as soon as possible.
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Do I Have to Give Police Permission to Search My Car?
You never have to give police permission to search your vehicle. Law enforcement must have a valid warrant to search your car unless you have given them your consent. However, police can search your car without your permission if they find signs “in plain view” of drug contraband or other illegal activity. These signs could include blood spatter, broken glass, drug paraphernalia, or other evidence.
The same goes for your trunk or compartments within your vehicle. Again, unless police have a warrant or you permit them to do so, they do not have the authority to search these areas. However, if the police believe you may be concealing a weapon in any of these areas, they have the power to conduct a valid search.
If police search without a warrant, your attorney may fight to have any evidence they obtained during this illegal search tossed out at trial.
What Should I Do If I’m Stopped by Police?
If police stop you, it is essential that you pull over as soon as possible. Make sure you get to an area that does not obstruct traffic. In addition, ensure that your hands are either on the wheel or dashboard so police can visibly see your hands as they approach the car.
Avoid making sudden movements, as this could make police feel like they are in danger. Instead, let the police know you will provide them with any necessary documents when they ask, and you can let them know where the documents are before reaching for them. Also, it is crucial to notify the police if you are carrying any firearms in your vehicle.
Please take a note of the police officer’s name and badge number. If it becomes necessary, take a video of the incident.
Get Help From a Criminal Defense Attorney Today
Understanding your rights and responsibilities when law enforcement stops you could make all the difference in the situation’s outcome. However, if you are cited or arrested after the police stop you, you should contact a criminal defense attorney to determine your next steps.
A criminal defense lawyer at Bader Scott Injury Lawyers could help you protect your rights. Schedule your confidential consultation today by calling our office or completing the secured contact form on our website.