3 Things You Should Do if Pulled Over by the Police
Face it, everyone gets pulled over by the cops at some point in their life. It’s just part of life. Maybe you were going a bit too fast, or perhaps you forgot to use a signal before making a turn. Whatever it is, interactions with the police do not need to be complicated. However, it is still very important to understand your rights and know how to respond to the police. Most experienced attorneys would agree that you need to strike a balance between polite and respectful behavior and firmly preserving your rights.
The subject of police authority and Constitutional rights is very complex, but if you can just remember three simple rules, you will go a long way toward protecting yourself during these uncomfortable interactions with the government. If you are arrested and charged with a crime, call the Law Offices of Todd K. Mohink, P.A. right away.
#1 – Attempt to Determine the Officer’s Reason for the Stop
There is a reason why most officers will ask that common question, “Do you know why I pulled you over?” The police must have some reasonable suspicion that a crime has been or is about to be committed in order to stop you. It can be as simple as a busted tail light. But there needs to be a reason. Your race, your nationality, your ethnicity, and similar factors are not legal grounds for pulling you over. Be respectful, but don’t be afraid to ask.
#2 – Do Not Consent to Searches
Believe it or not, police have a right to lie or bluff in order to get you to agree to things that they would otherwise not be allowed to do. For instance, if the officer tells you that he pulled you over for not using a turn signal, fine. You should receive a citation and be on your way. Unless the officer has some probable cause, he cannot just tear apart your vehicle or search your trunk. Officers may threaten you with warrants or tell you that you have to let them open your trunk. This is not necessarily true. Think about it, if the officer had a legal right to open your trunk or search your personal belongings, then why would he or she need to ask?
Just remember that you always have a right to respectfully decline to consent to any police search of your body, your property, or your home. If the officer believes that he or she has a right to do so without your consent (based on probable cause), then the officer can certainly do so. As USA Today aptly reported, the police wield a lot of power on the street, with or without legal authority.
#3 – Do Not Resist or Interfere
This goes to the second point in some ways. While you don’t have to consent, you should NEVER resist or interfere with the officer’s actions. Instead, just remember that once you’ve declined a search, the ball is in the police officer’s court. The officer must decide whether there is sufficient probable cause to warrant performing an intrusive search and invasion of privacy. If the officer finds evidence of a serious crime (drugs, open container, etc.), your attorney will have a strong argument for getting the evidence excluded if the officer did not have a genuine reason for the search. Your refusal to consent to a search is generally not evidence of guilt.
If you’ve been arrested, call The Law Offices of Todd K. Mohink, P.A. in Maryland today.