Interactions between police and citizens happen everywhere on a daily basis. However, not all interactions are particularly positive. If you are stopped and questioned by the police, you are protected by certain civil rights. A civil rights attorney can help you sue if those rights are violated. Here is a basic guide to surviving a police encounter by following the law:
You Must Show Respect
Obey the officers’ commands and do not try to argue. Any perceived insubordination can be considered obstruction of justice, and a simple stop can turn into an arrest and jail time. Show the officer the same level of respect you should show an airport security guard.
You May be Frisked
Even if you are not getting arrested, police have the right to frisk you to search for weapons. This is known as a Terry Frisk, and allows law enforcement officers to feel the outsides of your clothing and possessions for weapons. Police can only reach into your pockets if they have a reasonable suspicion that you are carrying a weapon.
You Have the Right to Remain Silent
Even before you are read your Miranda rights, you have every right not to disclose information to a police officer. Answer their questions courteously and never lie, but feel free to keep your statements short and to the point. Incriminating statements can give the officer probable cause for arrest.
You Can Deny a Search
If you are pulled over during a traffic stop, you have the right to deny police the ability to search your car. Police have the right to search your car only after you have been arrested (searches incident to arrest are legal), but if it is a routine stop and an officer asks to look in your trunk, you can say no.
Police-citizen interactions can spiral out of control very quickly. If your rights have been violated during an encounter with a police officer, you need an experienced civil rights attorney. Call the Philadelphia Law Offices of Patrick Geckle at (267) 234-7708. We can help defend your rights in the face of police misconduct and brutality.