Defending yourself against police justice can be scary; they are the embodiment of the law right? If they pull you over or call themselves asking you questions, they must know what they are talking about right?
This is how many Americans feel when dealing with law enforcement. But it’s an incorrect notion. In fact, police are basically trained on laws pertaining to making an arrest. Laws on search and seizures are also important knowledge of the police. But to be totally frank, even when arrested by an officer, the charges pinned against you are only “alleged”. This means, their word is not law. The report compiled by these officers must still be passed forward to law professionals such as lawyers, prosecutors, and judges to ensure the officer was in fact just in their arrest.
There are however a few rights you have to make sure your dignity as a citizens is upheld might you have such an encounter.
First and foremost, while it is very important to cooperate with law enforcement, you have a right to remain silent. Silence ensures that one cannot incriminate themselves. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t cooperate with the officer to the best of your ability. This means, pulling over as soon as possible to the safest place for the officer to reach your window. You should also have all of your vehicles documents as well as yours prepared before the officer arrives. Remember to have your music down, stay calm, and have your hands on the steering wheel as not to alert the officer.
You also have the right to record your interaction with police. Since cases have emerge through the recent years of police injustice across America, police have started attaching cameras onto their uniforms as evidence of their interaction with citizens. Therefore it’s your right to do the same. Having your phone propped up somewhere and out of your hands, however, would be a great so you don’t interfered with the officer doing his job. But having the peace of mind, knowing that you have your own video evidence of your interaction as well is, your right and totally worth it these days.
You also have the right of refusal. Many citizens aren’t aware that they don’t have to consent to a Breathalyzer test or a search of their vehicle. Remember that cops need your permission to perform these actions. If you happen to refuse a search and a doesn’t let you go, it’s your right to ask if you are being detained or not. If you are, it’s your right to know why. If you aren’t, it’s your right to be set free.
If you’ve been charged with a crime, don’t hesitate to speak with a criminal lawyer in Decatur, GA about your situation and legal options for moving forward.
Thanks to Andrew R. Lynch, P.C. for their insight into criminal law and possession of drugs.