Being stopped or pulled over by the police in public while operating a vehicle can be a scary experience. However, knowing the best way to react to a police stop and understanding your rights during such situations can be very helpful. In fact, sometimes it can determine whether you are arrested and in other instances, your behavior and the steps you take immediately after a stop or arrest can turn out to help you down the road if your case ever goes to trial.
Following are some tips on how to best conduct yourself if you are ever stopped by the police:
Be respectful and polite. Arguing and being rude to an officer during a stop will only make the situation worse. Try to stay calm, and don’t run or resist the officer’s requests.
Ask if you are free to go. If you are under arrest, the officer is obligated to tell you the reason for the arrest. If you are not under arrest, and free to go, then the officer must let you go if you wish. However, if you are being detained, then you can expect the officers to prevent you from leaving for up to about 20 minutes while they investigate.
The right to remain silent. The 5th Amendment gives you the right to remain silent and not incriminate yourself. You are not legally obligated to tell the officer where you are going or coming from, what you are doing or where you live. In order to exercise this right, you should vocally state that you are doing so, and ask for a lawyer. However, use caution. Exercising the 5th Amendment when you are merely being stopped and questioned could increase the officer’s suspicions.
Provide ID. Although you have the right to remain silent, you are required to provide your driver’s license and registration. If you’re not driving, the officer may ask for your name. It’s best to comply with the request.
Don’t consent to a search. Make sure the officers know you do not agree to a search of your body or property by stating it vocally. Know that if they suspect a weapon, however, they will pat you down.
Be honest. Lying to the officer’s will likely only complicate your case down the road. It is best to be honest, or to not speak at all.
If you are arrested, do not resist the arrest even if you think you’ve done nothing wrong. Afterward, write down as much as you can remember about the incident, including the officer’s names, badge numbers and which department they’re from. If witnesses were on the scene, try to obtain their contact information. Your next step should be to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney in your area.
Contact a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney in Virginia
Being charged with a crime can jeopardize your entire future. For this reason, it’s important to have a strong criminal defense law firm on your side to protect your rights and lead you through the complexities of the legal system. At The NoVa Law Firm, we have nearly 15 years of experience fighting for the rights of our clients in Virginia. Call us today at (703) 352-9347 or contact us online to speak with one of our experienced attorneys and discuss your situation.