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How to handle police interactions

On Behalf of | Mar 25, 2024 | Firm News |

The police are there to protect the public from crime and enforce the law. For the most part, this is precisely what they do. 

There may come a time when you have to interact with police officers. This can be a daunting experience, particularly if you haven’t done it before. There are various levels of police interactions. Police officers are members of the community who enjoy conversations like everyone else. However, there is a big difference between this type of interaction and interacting with the police if you have been identified as a suspect. 

Here are a few things to keep in mind:

You are not obliged to talk to them 

If you are busy, then you may simply not have time to talk when a police officer approaches you for a conversation. If you are not being detained or arrested, then you are free to leave. This doesn’t mean that you should run or become confrontational. By simply asking the officer if you are free to leave, and receiving a “yes” response, you can wish them well and walk away. 

If the police inform you that you are under arrest, then this is different. You cannot walk away from this situation, or you could face further charges. However, you still don’t have to talk to them. In fact, it’s probably in your best interests not to. The Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution grants you the right to remain silent and refrain from making self-incriminating statements. You can calmly assert this right by stating that you do not wish to talk until you have sought further legal guidance. 

Can you be searched? 

The police may indicate that they need to search you or conduct a search of your vehicle or property. You do not have to consent to this search if they do not possess a valid warrant. If the police continue with the search regardless, then you shouldn’t try to physically obstruct them. Again, this can lead to further charges. If the search was unlawful, then this can be challenged in court at a later date. The Fourth Amendment of the Constitution protects citizens from unlawful searches and seizures. 

If you have been identified as a criminal suspect, it is important to seek further legal information about your rights as soon as possible.