If you are uncertain about your rights or how to properly interact with
the officer, a stop could turn into a hostile situation. While being stopped
by the police is never an enjoyable experience, knowing your rights during
a stop can make the experience as positive for you as possible and ensure
that your legal and constitutional rights are protected.
If You Are Stopped in Your Car
What to Do:
If a police car pulls you over, the most important thing to remember is
to remain calm and be polite to the officer. When the officer activates
the lights on his or her police cruiser, you should pull your vehicle
over to the side of the road at the first opportunity when it is safe
to do so. When the officer approaches your window, roll your window all
the way down and keep your hands on the steering wheel so that the officer
has no reason to fear that you may be holding a weapon. Wait to reach
into the glove compartment for your registration until the officer asks
for it so that it does not look like you are reaching for a weapon or
trying to hide something. You must provide your license, registration,
and proof of insurance to the officer upon request.
You should stay in the car unless the officer asks you to step out. If
the officer asks you to step out, do so calmly, without any sudden jerks
or movements. Even if you are frustrated, don’t argue with the officer
or refuse to comply. This could cause a dangerous situation with the officer
and could hurt any legal case later.
What Are Your Rights:
A police officer has authority to require you to provide identification
and step out of the car, but you also have certain rights during a car
stop that you should be aware of.
You can and should refuse consent to allow the officer to search your car. Usually, an officer can only search your car if the officer first obtains
a search warrant. If an officer asks for permission to search your car,
you can and should politely refuse.
However, an officer can search your car without a warrant if the officer
has probable cause to believe that you have contraband in the car. The
officer will likely have probable cause to search the car if there are
open alcohol containers or evidence of drugs visible in the car. The officer
may also have probable cause if the car smells of marijuana or alcohol.
If an officer attempts to search your car, you should calmly and politely
state that you do not consent to the search but do not interfere with
the officer. An attorney can challenge the results of unconstitutional
searches at a later time.
You can and should refuse to allow the officer to search your person. If an officer asks you to step out of the car, the officer can quickly
pat you down to search for weapons. To perform a more thorough search
of your person, the officer must obtain a search warrant. Thus, if the
officer asks to search your person, you can refuse.
You have the right remain silent and the right to an attorney if you are
arrested. An officer has authority to arrest you if the officer saw you commit any
crime. Even if the officer only saw you a commit a minor offense, such
as reckless driving, the officer has authority to arrest you. If the officer
places you under arrest, do not fight or argue, as this will only harm
your case and cause a dangerous situation. In fact, resisting an arrest
could lead to additional criminal charges against you. You have the right
to remain silent until provided with an attorney. Do not say anything
to the officer. He or she may act friendly, but they are investigating
you for a crime. Be polite, and clearly and calmly state that you want
to remain silent and that you want an attorney.
Your Fight Is Our Fight
If You Are Stopped on the Street
What to Do:
An officer has authority to stop you on the street if the officer has reasonable
suspicion that you are engaged in criminal activity. If an officer stops
you on the street, do not resist or argue, as this will only create a
dangerous situation. You can calmly ask if you are free to leave. If the
officer says yes, then quietly walk away. If the officer says no, then
do not attempt to fight or leave.
Take mental notes throughout the encounter. Remember what you were doing
when the officer stopped you. Pay attention to how many officers are present
during the stop. Take note of any search that the officers perform and
what questions they ask you. Finally, pay attention to how long the encounter lasts.
What Are Your Rights:
You can and should refuse to allow the officer to search you. The officer only has authority to briefly pat you down for weapons. The
officer may remove from your clothing any weapons or anything that obviously
feels like contraband, such as a brick of marijuana. To perform a more
thorough search, such as removing your jacket or searching your pockets,
the officer must either obtain a search warrant or place you under arrest.
If the officer asks for consent to search you, you can and should politely refuse.
You have the right to remain silent. When an officer stops you on the street, he or she does not need to read
you your Miranda rights, but you still have the right to remain silent.
If the officer begin asking you questions that you do not want to answer,
you should calmly and politely state that you are exercising your right
to remain silent and that you would like to be on your way. If the officer
refuses to let you leave, you should calmly and politely reiterate that
you are exercising your right to remain silent and that you would like
Just like a traffic stop, if the officer saw you commit a crime, the officer
has authority to arrest you. If the officer places you under arrest, do
not fight or argue, as this will only harm your case, cause a dangerous
situation, and may lead to additional criminal charges. Once the officer
has arrested you, the officer has authority to search you for relevant
evidence. Do not resist, but clearly and calmly state that you want to
remain silent and that you want an attorney.
If you are placed under arrest, call the experienced criminal defense attorneys
at White Law PLLC right away. You can and should put our number—(517)
774-2274—in your phone so that you can call us if things ever go
wrong. You are not likely to know ahead of time when you will be arrested,
so it is always best to be prepared. Our attorneys have over 30 years
of experience protecting defendants’ rights by looking for constitutional
violations in their cases. If you think the police may have violated one
of the rights discussed here, please contact our office for a free consultation.
We are ready to zealously represent you and fight for your rights.
We’re Experienced. We Care.
We Exceed Client Expectations.