When you notice the flashing lights of a law enforcement vehicle in your rearview mirror, you know what happens next could have a significant impact on your future. As you deal with law enforcement, follow their instructions and possibly navigate the criminal justice system after an arrest, it will be critical to know how to protect yourself. The first step in this process is to know your rights and be able to recognize when there is a violation of these rights.
What you say and do during a traffic stop matters. Familiarity with your rights during a traffic stop will lessen the chance you say something that could incriminate yourself or complicate your case. You may also benefit from understanding how to proceed in the event that law enforcement did violate your rights in some way.
During the interaction with law enforcement
Even if police approach your vehicle and begin to ask you questions, you have the right to remain silent. You do not have to answer inquiries or respond to any accusations made by the police. Passengers in the vehicle have the right to ask if they are free to leave. If the police decide to arrest or detain you for any reason, you may state your intent to remain silent and ask for an attorney. You do not have to admit anything, agree to anything or sign anything.
Police cannot listen to your phone call if you choose to speak with an attorney. However, they may listen if you use your call to speak with someone who is not an attorney. If there was a violation of your rights, it will be beneficial to document everything you experience or remember. This includes information about the officers, such as their badge numbers, car numbers and other identifying information. You may also decide to file a complaint with the police department or other party.
Your defense starts now
After an interaction with law enforcement that resulted in your arrest, you will benefit from taking immediate action to begin developing your defense strategy. This is especially important if you believe you experienced a violation of your rights or there is a problem with the case against you. An assessment of your case will help you understand how you can proceed in a way that will allow you effectively confront the case against you and fight for the most beneficial outcome.