What to do if You Are Stopped by The Police

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Being stopped by the police, even for a traffic infraction, is almost never a good experience.  These days there has been a swing in the law that erodes some of our 4th amendment rights.  Miranda as a right only exists in the barest sense.  We see people wrongfully accused and convicted of crimes all the time.  If you’re ever stopped or contacted by the police, it’s a good idea to be aware of your rights.  

Keep in mind that these are general discussions and never a substitute for advice from an attorney.  The best advice is to always consult with an attorney if you have legal problems.

The first thing to remember, is that as a general rule, you can not be detained without a warrant or reasonable articulable suspicion of a crime.  If you are stopped on the street without a warrant, keep in mind that you are never required to give consent for a search of your person.  An officer cannot generally search you without probable cause.  You should make it clear that you are not consenting to any search.  Without consent, your attorneys may be able to argue for any evidence against you to be thrown out.  

If you are in your home and police 

come to your door, keep in mind that they can not enter your home without your consent or a warrant.  Again, make clear that you are not giving consent for them to enter their home, even if they present a warrant, make it clear that the search is based solely on the warrant and you are still not giving consent.  There are occasional rare instances where officers can enter if there is a clear emergency situation (someone screaming bloody murder, etc.)   More than likely in those situations they will not be stopping to ask for consent.

Finally, if you are arrested, be aware of your right to a lawyer and your right to remain silent.  In my previous posts, I discussed the erosion of Miranda Rights.  Basically, the latest rulings by the Supreme Court virtually does aware with Miranda Rights unless someone clearly invokes the rights.  If you simply remain silent, or say something to the effect of “I think I want a lawyer…”  The police may be able to continue questioning you for hours until you break down.  You must say unequivocably, “I invoke my right to speak to my lawyer before any questioning.”  Do not give any explanations, excuses, or stories.  Give your name and address and ask to see a lawyer immediately.  For further insurance also tell them you are immediately invoking your right to remain silent.


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