As someone who has dealt with law enforcement officers one or more times during your life, you may have firsthand knowledge of the stresses that can come with doing so. Failing to understand your full legal rights has the potential to lead to considerable and serious trouble, so the more you understand about your rights, the better your chances of staying out of the criminal justice system.
So, what can you do to protect yourself in the event that authorities attempt to stop your car, search you or place you under arrest?
When authorities stop your car
If a law enforcement officer stops you in your vehicle, make sure to comply with requests to furnish your license, registration and proof of insurance, and stay calm and polite throughout the interaction. You do not, however, have to allow the officer to search your vehicle. If you do not want the officer to search your car, tell him clearly and succinctly that you do not consent to a search. If, however, the officer gives you a ticket, sign the ticket and do not try to fight it on the spot. Instead, wait for your day in court to do so.
When authorities attempt to search you
If you are anywhere other than a car and authorities attempt to search you, make it clear that you do not consent to the search by saying exactly that loudly and clearly. While making it clear that you do not consent to a search is important, so, too, is not opening your purse or bag, as this can count as you consenting to have it searched. Whatever you do, though, do not attempt to physically resist the officer, as this could lead to additional legal hardship down the line.
When authorities arrest you
Remember, when authorities place you under arrest, you have the right to remain silent, and you would be wise to exercise this right. Often, it proves unwise to discuss your case or situation with law enforcement officers without your own attorney present.
Following these guidelines may help you avoid trouble in the event that you have a run-in with law enforcement.