What to do if you’ve been stopped by the Police

Police have one mission in their role as officers—to serve and protect. As officers of the law, we look to the police in times of need to help and keep us safe. For some, an encounter with the police may invoke feelings of nervousness or fear, regardless of circumstance. Here are some general things to know about being stopped by police regarding your rights.

If stopped in your car, here are some things to know. Officers cannot legally pull you over without probable cause. Probable cause means there is a very good reason to believe a person has committed a crime, or that evidence of a crime can be found in a specific space. Some examples of this include suspicious behavior that a driver is under the influence, swerving, or a clear violation of the law. If pulled over, it is important to comply with the officer and remember the stated reason for pulling you over.

When stopped, be sure to quickly pull your car over in a safe, well-lit place. You can pre-emptively roll down the window, and have your driver’s license, registration, and proof of insurance ready to show the officer should they ask. If an officer asks to look inside your car, you can refuse to consent to the search unless they have a warrant. However, if police believe your car contains evidence of a crime, your car can be searched without your consent.  Same as being pulled over, officers must have probable cause to search your car, such as smelling drugs or alcohol, or seeing open beer bottles, firearms, or drug paraphernalia in plain view.

You have the right to remain silent, both as the driver or passenger. As a passenger, you may ask the officer if you are free to leave, and calmly do so if they allow it. Even if the officer says you are not allowed to leave, you still have the right to remain silent. This means that if the officer is questioning you, you are under no obligation to answer. If they handcuff you and ask questions, you can ask if you are under arrest. If you are not under arrest, you can ask to leave. If you are under arrest, your Miranda rights must be read to you and anything you say following that, can be used against you. 

If arrested, do not resist regardless of how unfair the arrest may seem. Exercise your right to remain silent and ask for a lawyer immediately. There is no need to give the police any explanations or excuses. If you cannot afford an attorney, you have the right to a court-appointed attorney. It is crucial to not say anything, sign anything, or make any decisions without your lawyer. You also have the right to make a phone call. If the call is to your lawyer, the police cannot listen. Be sure to prepare yourself and your family in case you are arrested by memorizing the phone numbers of your family and attorney. Make plans in the case of your family and children or if you need to take medications. 

If you feel like your rights have been violated, unfortunately there is not much that can be done at the moment of your arrest. Physically resisting the officers would do more harm than good. When you can, write down everything you remember, including officers’ names and badge numbers. Get information from witnesses, if there are any. And most importantly, seek the help of an attorney.

What should you do if you feel like your rights have been violated?

If you have been searching the Mississippi area for a qualified, experienced criminal defense attorney, look no further than Vic Carmody Jr., P.A. Over the years, we have helped numerous offenders pursue favorable outcomes. Although being accused of a crime is not a pleasant experience, there are many potential defense strategies that can be used to defend and reduce the charges against an offender. Call/contact us today for your free consultation to learn more.

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