Questioned By Police? Five Important Tips
Getting pulled over or stopped on the sidewalk by a police officer can be a stressful and potentially traumatic experience for people. You are likely overwhelmed with emotion and adrenaline and may be prone to saying something inappropriate or acting irrationally. Do not make this mistake. Below are five important tips you need to remember if you are stopped by a police officer:
Give the Officer Your Name
A police officer is allowed to ask you for your name. There is no legal prohibition to an officer asking you a basic question to determine whom they are interacting with. It is also legal because an officer needs to be able to request background information from central command.
If you are pulled over while operating a vehicle, a police officer may also ask you for your
driver’s license and registration. This is allowed because it is against the law to operate a motor vehicle without a license or proof of registration. In the driving context, if you are stopped, turn the overhead light on and put your hands on the steering wheel so the officer can see them. If you have anything in your hands that could potentially be mistaken for a weapon, such as a bottle or a cell phone, put it on the seat in plain sight. These affirmative steps can help eliminate potential issues that may cause the situation to suddenly escalate.
It is perfectly understandable to feel anxious or nervous when being stopped by a police officer. Keep calm. Remind yourself that the officer is a person, too. He or she is simply doing a job. If you are clam and respectful, you will likely receive the same treatment from the officer.
Miranda Rights Only Apply to Specific Situations
Some people mistakenly believe that an officer must read them their Miranda Rights before asking them any questions (see tip no. 1 for why this is not accurate). In fact, police do not have to read you Miranda Rights unless they intend to interrogate you. This means you can be arrested without the officer reading you Miranda Rights. For example, if you attempted to evade police and were subsequently apprehended, an officer is not required to read Miranda Rights when he or she apprehends you; only if he or she then initiates an interrogation.
Do Not Admit Anything
Be mindful of the fact that any information you voluntarily provide is admissible in court. This means that if a police officer begins asking you probing questions, you can simply respond by stating that you are exercising all of your legal rights including your right to silence and your right to speak to a lawyer before speaking to police.
Contact an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney
If you are charged with a crime and arrested, seeking immediate legal representation is critical. The sooner you hire an experienced criminal defense attorney, the sooner he or she can go to work finding the gaping holes in the case and the officer’s rationale for charging you.
Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney Ready to Help
The Law Offices of Peter Berlin is dedicated to helping those who have been charged with almost any kind of criminal activity. With nearly 20 years of experience in criminal defense, we know what it takes to provide a strong defense against any charge. Contact our office 24/7 for a free consultation at 310-289-5418.