Getting stopped by the police is scary, and many people do not understand their rights or how to act when faced with questions. There are ways to act within one’s rights without escalating the situation.
If the police do make an arrest, it is important to know how to act so someone does not unknowingly incriminate him- or herself.
Rights if stopped by police
Whether in a car or on foot, the ACLU states that no one has to answer certain questions, such as those regarding where someone lives, what someone is doing, the country of origin or where someone is going. In some states, the person must state a name. Officers may not perform a search of someone’s belongings or person.
While everything is going on, make sure to keep hands visible. Understand that lying, resisting, running or obstructing the officers only makes things worse.
Rights while under arrest
If put under arrest, the officers must read the suspect the Miranda rights, which include the right to an attorney and the right to remain silent. On the way to the station, and upon arrival, request a lawyer right away and do not say or sign anything.
Everyone arrested gets the right to make a phone call. Keep in mind that unless it is an attorney, the officers can listen to the call.
Understanding the right to remain silent
Although it is a right to remain silent, FindLaw discusses that just staying quiet is not enough to invoke one’s rights. Without invoking them, officers may continue to interrogate the person of interest. The person must clearly and directly state the right to remain silent. Once this happens, all questioning must cease, no matter who is doing the interrogating.