Fundamental Rights

You have the right to remain silent. Tell the officer, I wish to remain silent. If you are placed under arrest, tell the officer you want a lawyer.

Search

You have the right to refuse to consent to a search of yourself, your car or your home. The officer may ask you if you have anything in the vehicle he/she needs to know about. Simply respond, I will not consent to a search. I wish to have my attorney present.

The officer may tell you they will seek a search warrant, simply repeat, I wish to speak with my attorney. Do not consent to a search! You don’t have to. If they threaten to get a warrant, again repeat that you will not consent to a search and that you want an attorney before answering any questions.

If you are not under arrest, you have the right to leave. Ask the officer if you are under arrest. If you are not, walk away.

Stopped for Questioning

Do not argue or run from the officer. Keep your hands where police can see them. Simply exercise your right to remain silent by telling the officer, I am exercising my right to remain silent. You must provide identification if it is requested. Tell the officer your name. Do not lie. They will figure it out and you will be arrested.

Again, ask if you are free to leave. If the officer says yes, walk away. If you are under arrest, you have a right to know why. Ask: “Why am I being arrested?”

You are not required to consent to a search of yourself or your belongings. The officer may pat you down and touch you and your clothing if he/she suspects you have a weapon. You should not physically resist, but you have the right to refuse consent for any further search.

Stopped in your car by the police

Stop as quickly and safely as possible. Turn off the car and turn on the interior light. Open the window partially and place your hands on the steering wheel. Do not make any sudden movements. Don’t be placing things under the seat, bending over, etc. This will lead to you being removed from your car.

When the officer approaches, if he/she does not tell you why you were stopped, ask “Why are you stopping me?” Don’t argue. Just ask and listen.

Upon request, show police your driver’s license, registration and proof of insurance.

If the officer asks to look inside your car, you may refuse to consent to the search. But if police believe your car contains evidence of a crime, your car can be searched without your consent. It is best to never consent to a search of your vehicle.

Both drivers and passengers have the right to remain silent. If you are a passenger, you can ask if you are free to leave. If the officer says yes, sit silently or calmly leave. Even if the officer says no, you have the right to remain silent.

Home Search

If the police show up at your home, you do not have to let them in unless they have certain kinds of warrants. You do not even have to open the door. Ask thee officer, “do you have a search warrant?” If they say no, then say I wish to remain silent and I will not consent to a search of my home. No matter what they say, remain silent and do not consent.

If the officer has a search warrant, tell them to slide it under the door or hold it to a window so that you may view it. If they knock and announce that they have a search warrant, you have the right to view it before they bust down your door.

A search warrant allows police to enter the address listed on the warrant, but officers can only search the areas and for the items listed.

An arrest warrant allows police to enter the home of the person listed on the warrant if they believe the person is inside your home.

Remember, you always have the right to remain silent. If you choose to speak to the officers, step outside and close the door. Do not let them into your house or they may claim you consented to a search.