What to Do if You’re Arrested or Stopped by the Police
Being arrested or stopped by the police can be a frightening experience. You may wonder whether the incident will lead to embarrassment, a mark on your record or other serious legal problems. If you’re arrested, what exactly are your rights? What are your rights if you’re stopped by the police? What should you do if police approach you or tell you that they’re taking you into custody?
You may have a lot of questions, but knowing what to do in these situations is vital. Having the right knowledge can help you make the best choices so you can protect your rights.
What to Do When You’re Stopped by the Police
If stopped by the police, your main goal is to avoid anything that will lead to an arrest. The good news is that you have rights if you’re stopped by the police, and taking a few precautions can help protect those rights. Start with these steps:
- Know your rights. If you’re stopped by the police while you’re in a car, you must provide your driver’s license and registration if asked. If you’re properly detained, you may be asked your name. The police may also ask additional questions or may ask you to search your person or property. You do have the right to refuse. In fact, consenting to a search can affect your rights later.
- Stay calm. Acting agitated or anxious is a bad idea. Stay calm and pleasant, and keep your hands visible at all times.
- Politely clarify the situation. Ask whether you’re free to leave or whether you’re being arrested.
- Be careful about what you say. When stopped by the police, you should weigh your words carefully. They may decide whether you are arrested or detained. Don’t get into any disagreement with the police or use words that can be mistaken as hostile. Say as little as possible, and watch your body language, facial expressions and movement.
What Are Your Rights When You’re Arrested?
If you’re arrested, what are your rights? What should you do to protect those arrest rights and get the best possible outcome? In this situation, it’s normal to be upset but remember that you need to focus and act strategically. Here’s what to do if you’re arrested:
- Don’t talk. You have the right to remain silent, and you should exercise that right for your own protection. If you’re arrested and the police ask you questions, simply say “I’d like to remain silent.” Even if police officers tell you that they have evidence or witnesses, don’t take the bait.
- Don’t run or resist. In both cases, you may hurt your case or face additional charges, even if no one is hurt. Even if you don’t know what to do when you’re arrested or you start to panic, avoid flailing, running or doing anything that might be seen as resisting.
- Do not allow the police to search your person, car or property. You have the right to refuse unlawful searches. If the police ask to search your car or property in any way, it means they are seeking your consent. Never agree to this. State clearly to the police and to any witnesses that you do not consent to a search.
- Get the contact information of any witnesses to your arrest. As soon as possible, have the witnesses write down what they remember from the arrest. Your rights may protect you, but if the police violate these rights, it’s helpful to have witnesses to prove the police did something wrong.
- Watch your social media presence. Immediately change your settings to private and avoid using social media after the arrest. Delete any social media images that may harm your case. Be sure to tell your attorney about your social media accounts, so he or she can evaluate your social media presence.
- Get legal representation fast. One of your most important rights is the right to legal counsel. The faster you get an experienced attorney on your side, the sooner the attorney can start addressing your situation.
- Write down what you remember as soon as possible. Even small details can help your attorney defend you.
Wondering what to do if you’re stopped by the police? Don’t guess or make any assumptions. Work with the attorneys at MPL Law Firm instead. We listen and care about our clients, and we have handled many arrests and defense cases in Pennsylvania. Contact our team today.