Dewayne Hopson is an attorney in Clarksdale, MS. This article is for informational purposes only and by reading this article you acknowledge this general information should not be construed as legal advice.
Lets face it, we all get nervous when we get stopped by the police, especially if you are a minority. I believe that in today’s time it is very important that you know your rights when stopped by the police. In these situations, you are protected from illegal search and seizures by the Constitution. Below are a few key rights that every citizen should know they have when being pulled over by the police:
Source: ACLU Mississippi website
When You Are Stopped In Your Car
Officers can not legally pull you over for no reason. Probable cause is required for police to legally pull over a driver. Examples of probable cause are a suspicious behavior that a driver is under the influence, erratic driving, or a clear violation of the law.When pulled over by the police, comply with the officer and remember the reasons given for why you where pulled over..
Stop the car in a safe place as quickly as possible. Turn off the car, turn on the internal light, roll down the window and place your hands on the wheel. When asked, show police your driver’s license, registration and proof of insurance.
If an officer asks to look inside your car, you can refuse to consent to the search. However, if police believe your car contains evidence of a crime, your car can be searched without your consent. Same as being pulled over, officers must have probable cause to search your car, such as smelling drugs or alcohol, or seeing open beer bottles, firearms, or drug paraphernalia in plain view.
Both drivers and passengers have the right to remain silent.If you are a passenger, you can ask if you are free to leave. If the officer says yes, you may calmly leave. Even if the officer says no, you have the right to remain silent. When officers ask to speak with you, you are under no obligation to answer questions. If they handcuff you and ask questions, you can ask if you are under arrest; if not, you can then ask to be let go. If you are under arrest, your rights must be read to you and anything you say afterwards can be used against you.
If You Are Arrested
Do not resist arrest, even if you believe the arrest is unfair.
Say you wish to remain silent and ask for a lawyer immediately. Don’t give any explanations or excuses. If you can’t pay for a lawyer, you have the right to a free one. Don’t say anything, sign anything or make any decisions without a lawyer.
You have the right to make a local phone call. The police cannot listen if you call a lawyer.
Prepare yourself and your family in case you are arrested.Memorize the phone numbers of your family and your lawyer. Make emergency plans if you have children or take medication.
Special considerations for non-citizens:
- Ask your lawyer about the effect of a criminal conviction or plea on your immigration status.
- Don’t discuss your immigration status with anyone but your lawyer.
- While you are in jail, an immigration agent may visit you. Do not answer questions or sign anything before talking to a lawyer.
- Read all papers fully. If you do not understand or cannot read the papers, tell the officer you need an interpreter.
If You Feel Your Rights Have Been Violated
Remember: police misconduct cannot be challenged on the street. Don’t physically resist officers or threaten to file a complaint.
Write down everything you remember, including officers’ badge and patrol car numbers, which agency the officers were from, and any other details. Get contact information for witnesses. If you are injured, take photographs of your injuries (but seek medical attention first).
File a written complaint with the agency’s internal affairs division or civilian complaint board. In most cases, you can file a complaint anonymously if you wish.
At Hopson Law Group we are personal injury lawyers who represent clients that are having a tough time dealing wit insurance companies. You can reach us at 662-624-4100 to set up an appointment for a free consultation!
Sources: (& Great Reads)