Encounters with the police can be stressful. It’s recommended that you act calm toward a police officer-even if you believe that you are being wrongfully arrested. However, you have the right to ask the officer questions. In the heat of the moment, you might struggle to put your thoughts into words, so this article provides you with a list of questions that are good to remember during any interaction with the police.
Should I Ask Questions?
In short: yes. You should ask questions during your interaction with a police officer because you have that right, and doing so can help to protect you against a violation of your rights. Remain calm and ask your questions in a level tone. Do not attempt to shout or escalate conflict with the officer while you ask questions.
Ask If You Are Being Detained
The first question that you should ask a police officer is if you are free to leave. This may seem like a pointless question, but an officer must confirm whether or not they are detaining you. If they say that you are free to leave, you are free to leave. Officers may attempt to keep your attention, hoping that you’ll keep talking and provide evidence of criminal activity. Rather than continue to talk with the officer, simply ask if you are being detained, or if you are free to leave. If you are not being detained, leave quietly and do not say or do anything that could escalate the situation.
Ask Why You Are Being Detained
If the officer confirms that you are being detained, you may ask why. An officer is only allowed to arrest you if they have probable cause that you have committed a crime, or if they have a valid warrant for your arrest. Once the officer clarifies the reason for your detention, remain quiet. Do not attempt to explain or justify the situation. You may relay the “why” to your attorney later, but trying to explain to the officer rarely results in a favorable outcome.
Ask If You Are Free to Leave
You may also ask the officer if you are free to leave. If the officer has indicated that you are not being detained, it is within your rights to leave. Holding you for an unreasonable period of time is a violation of your rights. However, if the officer attempts to stop you when you leave, it is best to comply. Speak to your lawyer at a later time about the incident.
Ask If the Officer Has A Search Warrant
Police officers do not (generally) have the right to search you without obtaining a warrant first. In some situations, they may pat you down to ensure that you do not have a weapon, but they do not have the right to fully search your person, your residence, or your vehicle without a search warrant. Ask the officer if they have a warrant. If they are not able to provide evidence of an existing warrant, do not consent to the search. If the officer becomes forceful, do not resist, but relay information to your legal representative about the details of the officer’s use of force. If you were injured in the course of the arrest, seek medical attention as soon as possible.
Ask What The Charges Are
If you are being arrested, you are permitted to ask what are the charges against you. Once you confirm this information, remain silent; again, relay these details to your legal counsel later. Anything you say to the officer can be used to incriminate you.
Ask How Long You Will Be Detained
Once you are sure that the officer is trying to arrest you, you may ask the officer how long you will be detained. It is a violation of a person’s individual rights to hold them unreasonably. Remember the officer’s answer so that you can relay it to your legal team later.
Ask For Legal Representation
As soon as an officer makes an indication that you are not free to leave or that you are being detained with potential charges, it is in your best interest to remain silent and provide no further information. However, every individual has a legal right to a lawyer. State to them that before you speak to them further, you are requesting to speak to an attorney. Following an arrest, you have a constitutional right to an attorney. Regardless of how the officer acknowledges or responds to this request, stop talking to them except to calmly reinforce your request for an attorney. Then, await legal guidance.
An Individual Rights Attorney Can Assist You In Cases of False Arrest
Regardless of whether or not you have committed a crime, you still have rights when an officer is attempting to arrest or detain you. If you believe that these rights have been violated, be sure to speak with a legal professional as soon as possible. The attorneys at The Brown Firm would be happy to review your case and walk you through the next steps. Reach out to schedule a consultation to get started.