People are often unaware of their rights when interacting with the police. Moreover, they may be unsure of how to correctly act around police officers to prevent stressful situations from escalating. Learning some tips for dealing with the police can help civilians understand their rights during these interactions, which can help prevent them from encountering potential legal issues. If you or a loved one is involved in legal complications after engaging with the police, consider contacting a skilled attorney at Jason S. English Law, PLLC, by calling (512) 454-7548 to schedule a consultation.
8 Rules To Consider When Dealing with the Police
The following eight rules to consider when dealing with the police can help civilians protect their rights and avoid escalating what may already be a tense situation:
- Stay calm—Remaining calm can help to prevent the situation from deteriorating, as police officers may view nervousness or agitation as suspicious
- Never touch a police officer—Officers are trained to react to threatening behavior, so it is paramount for civilians to keep their hands visible and not touch an officer at any time during the interaction
- Remember your legal rights—Civilians have certain legal rights, so it is important to remember what those rights are, particularly if one must later dispute a police officer's conduct
- Ask if you are detained or are free to go—Civilians may ask if they are under arrest or are free to go, and the police officers are legally required to respond truthfully
- Refuse searches—While officers can pat someone down if they suspect the person is carrying a weapon, according to the American Civil Liberties Union, police officers require significant probable cause to search persons, their homes, or their vehicles. In most situations, a civilian can refuse to give consent to a search. Even if the officer provides a valid search warrant, the refusal will be noted, and the officer cannot search beyond the parameters of the warrant
- Avoid confessing—The Miranda Warning indicates that the police can use anything a person says against him or her in court, so invoking the right to remain silent can help the person being questioned to avoid confessing to any wrongdoing
- Stay silent and avoid lying—A person has the legal right to be silent until his or her lawyer arrives. If a person wishes to assert this right, he or she must state this wish verbally. Identify yourself when expressing this right. Also identify any passengers if the police interaction occurs during a traffic stop
- Request an attorney—When asserting the right to a lawyer, it is not a requirement to explain why. If the person is unable to pay for an attorney, he or she has the right to be provided a lawyer by the state. Remember that police officers are not permitted to listen in on any conversations between an attorney and his or her client
How To Stay Calm When Stopped by the Police
When stopped by the police, staying calm is imperative. To do this, consider the following:
- Breathe slowly—Try to take slow, deep breaths by counting to four when breathing in and counting to eight when breathing out, as this slows the heart rate
- Focus on your surroundings—Consider a handful of nearby objects and name them in your head to assist with remaining focused on the situation
- Consider applicable rights—Remember that all citizens have rights and use this information to help control any emotions that may arise during the interaction with police
Why Is It Important To Respect the Police?
Respecting the police is crucial as this often results in police officers showing mutual respect to the general public. Police officers interact with all kinds of people in their roles of upholding the law and maintaining order, so they naturally approach every task with caution to ensure the safety of everyone involved. Due to this, it is advisable to show respect to prevent a situation from needlessly escalating.
However, it might be necessary to politely but firmly assert your rights if an officer is infringing on them. Following this, one may need to make a complaint if the police officer is being unprofessional or fails to show mutual respect. Filing a complaint after the fact is often a better course of action than arguing or confronting the officer in the moment, as this may result in additional charges or other problems. If you are faced with this scenario or want to learn more about your legal rights and discover more tips for dealing with the police, a skilled lawyer from Jason S. English Law, PLLC, may be able to help.
What Are Some Police Tactics?
Occasionally, police officers may use certain tactics to achieve the desired results, such as getting a confession. Having an awareness of these tactics can enable civilians to assert their legal rights more effectively. Some of the most common police tactics to be aware of include:
- Threats—Police officers may threaten people with arrest or state that more officers are coming in order to intimidate their suspect, even if they have no probable cause
- Lying—Police officers may lie to obtain a confession, such as by stating that they have the necessary evidence to win a conviction or by stating that one or more witnesses can corroborate their claims
- Psychological abuse—An arresting officer may refuse to allow bathroom breaks, water, or food to pressure the suspect into providing potentially self-incriminating information
When possible, avoid succumbing to these tactics. Instead, use the tips listed above, be aware of your rights, and avoid unnecessarily incriminating yourself by asserting those rights.
Contact a Lawyer for Advice on Police Interactions
While these tips for dealing with the police can improve your chances of having positive police interactions, this may not always be the case. In some situations, legal issues like being arrested may occur when dealing with the police. If you have encountered legal issues after interacting with the police, consider contacting a seasoned criminal defense attorney at Jason S. English Law, PLLC, by calling (512) 454-7548 to learn more about your legal rights today.