What to Do?
If you encounter police
Be polite and respectful. Never bad-mouth a police
officer. Stay calm and in control of your words,
body language and emotions. Don't get into an
argument with the police. Remember, anything you say
or do can be used against you. Keep your hands where
the police can see them. Don't run. Don't touch any
police officer. Don't resist even if you believe you
are innocent. Don't complain on the scene or tell
the police they're wrong or that you're going to
file a complaint. Do not make any statements
regarding the incident. Ask for a lawyer immediately
upon your arrest. Remember officers' badge & patrol
car numbers. Write down everything you remember
ASAP. Try to find witnesses & their names & phone
numbers. If you are injured, take photographs of the
injuries as soon as possible, but make sure you seek
medical attention first. If you feel your rights
have been violated, file a written complaint with
police department's internal affairs division or
civilian complaint board.
(1) What you say to
the police is always important. What you say can be used
against you, and it can give the police an excuse to arrest
you, especially if you bad-mouth a police officer.
(2) You don't have
to answer a police officer's questions, but you must show
your driver's license and registration when stopped in a
car. In other situations, you can't legally be arrested for
refusing to identify yourself to a police officer.
(3) You don't have
to consent to any search of yourself, your car or your
house. If you DO consent to a search, it can affect your
rights later in court. If the police say they have a search
warrant, ASK TO SEE IT.
(4) Do not interfere
with, or obstruct the police -- you can be arrested for it.
(Adopted from the ACLU)
stopped for questioning
(1) It's not a crime to refuse to answer
questions, but refusing to answer can make the police
suspicious about you. You can't be arrested merely for
refusing to identify yourself on the street.
(2) Police may
"pat-down" your clothing if they suspect a concealed weapon.
Don't physically resist, but make it clear that you don't
consent to any further search.
(3) Ask if you are
under arrest. If you are, you have a right to know why.
(4) Don't bad-mouth
the police officer or run away, even if you believe what is
happening is unreasonable. That could lead to your arrest.
(Adopted from the ACLU)
stopped in car
(1) Upon request, show them
your driver's license, registration, and proof of insurance.
In certain cases, your car can be searched without a warrant
as long as the police have probable cause. To protect
yourself later, you should make it clear that you do not
consent to a search. It is not lawful for police to arrest
you simply for refusing to consent to a search.
(2) If you're given
a ticket, you should sign it; otherwise you can be arrested.
You can always fight the case in court later.
(3) If you're
suspected of drunk driving (DWI) and refuse to take a blood,
urine or breath test, your driver's license may be
arrested or taken to station
(1) You have the right to remain silent and
to talk to a lawyer before you talk to the police. Tell the
police nothing except your name and address. Don't give any
explanations, excuses or stories. You can make your defense
later, in court, based on what you and your lawyer decide is
(2) Ask to see a lawyer immediately. If you
can't pay for a lawyer, you have a right to a free one, and
should ask the police how the lawyer can be contacted. Don't
say anything without a lawyer.
(3) Within a
reasonable time after your arrest, or booking, you have the
right to make a local phone call: to a lawyer, bail
bondsman, a relative or any other person. The police may not
listen to the call to the lawyer.
(4) Sometimes you
can be released without bail, or have bail lowered. Have
your lawyer ask the judge about this possibility. You must
be taken before the judge on the next court day after
5) Do not make any
decisions in your case until you have talked with a lawyer.
(Adopted from ACLU)
Police come to your home
(1) If the police knock and ask to enter
your home, you don't have to admit them unless they have a
warrant signed by a judge.
(2) However, in some
emergency situations (like when a person is screaming for
help inside, or when the police are chasing someone)
officers are allowed to enter and search your home without a
(3) If you are
arrested, the police can search you and the area close by.
If you are in a building, "close by" usually means just the
room you are in. We all recognize the need for effective law
enforcement, but we should also understand our own rights
and responsibilities -- especially in our relationships with
the police. Everyone, including minors, has the right to
courteous and respectful police treatment. If your rights
are violated, don't try to deal with the situation at the
scene. You can discuss the matter with an attorney
afterwards, or file a complaint with the Internal Affairs or
Civilian Complaint Board.