Encounters with the Police and Escalation – Know Your Rights
Police encounters can be extremely stressful. It is important to know your rights and how to navigate the high-pressured situation. Find out more with our latest article written by Karissa.
IntroductionComing into contact with a police officer creates a high-pressured environment. Whether you have committed a crime or have been accused of committing a crime, it can be extremely stressful to deal with the police. They are not there to be your friend. Police officers are doing their job of trying to get you to admit to the fault of a crime.
While police officers have the difficult job of providing service to communities they are sworn to protect and serve, there are instances when they have been put in harm’s way and are required to use force. When interactions with the police escalate into a violent situation, it can lead officers to use force against the person in question. This force is often characterized into different variations including a take down with physical force, shoving, or even hitting the suspect as a way to restrain them.
It should be made very clear: the burden of escalation falls on the hands of the police officers, not the private citizen in question. With that being said, one cannot assume that a police officer will automatically handle a situation in a way that protects the safety of the person in question. It is also presumptuous to believe that a police officer will always respect the rights of a citizen, even after asserting them.
The burden then falls back on the person in question, who needs to remain calm and refrain from showing any hostility towards the police officer that would escalate the situation into a violent one. The unfortunate truth is that some encounters with the police can end up with the suspect injured or even killed, despite trying everything to keep the officer at ease.
What Are My Rights?It is imperative to be aware of your rights in the event that you have an encounter with the police. Here is a list of rights a citizen has if stopped by the police:
The Right to Remain Silent
It is not necessary for you to answer specific questions regarding what you are doing, where you are headed, or where you live. If the police try to bombard you with questions, you can verbally respond that you wish to exercise your right to remain silent.
The Right to Deny Consent of a Search
Under the Fourth Amendment, you have the right to say you do not consent to a search of your person or your belongings. A police officer would then need probable cause or a warrant in order to carry out the search. It is important to note that making a timely objection before or during the search preserves your rights in later legal proceedings, and that refusing consent stops an officer only from carrying out a search that is against your will. If you would like to read more about the fourth amendment, you can do so here.
The Right to an Attorney
It is important to find an attorney that can help assist your case. Even if you cannot afford a private attorney of your own, you will be provided with a government-appointed lawyer. The experienced criminal defense attorneys at Pumphrey Law can be trusted with working on your case. If you would like to read more about your right to counsel, you can do so here.
My Rights Have Been Violated – What Do I Do?If you believe any of your rights have been violated while dealing with the police, it is vital to try and write everything down. This includes the police officers’ names, badge numbers, patrol car numbers, and other specific details about the police officers you dealt with.
Try to write down the incident exactly how you remember it, or if possible, record the incident while it is taking place. If there were witnesses around during the incident it is important to get their contact information for additional assistance.
If you have been injured during a situation with the police, seek medical help immediately and document the injuries with pictures. The next step would be to file a complaint with the police agency’s internal affairs. In some cases you can file an anonymous complaint.
Get in contact with a defense attorney at Pumphrey Law to receive help with your specific case.
I Have Witnessed Police BrutalityIn the event that you have witnessed or been a victim of police brutality, it is of utter importance to try and stay a safe distance away. If possible, use your smartphone to record the incident as it is happening. Read about the specifics on recording the police here.
Whether or not you have been able to record everything, it is important to write down all of the events you can remember. This includes the officer’s badge number, which agency the officer(s) are from, how many officers were involved in the incident, and if there were any weapons used (this includes less lethal weapons such as tasers or batons). Mark down any injuries to the person involved in the incident. If you are not the person who experienced the police brutality, leave your contact information with the person who was involved.
Reducing the RiskThe most important thing to remember during an encounter with the police: stay calm. Do not resist the police, do not run from the police. Do not obstruct the officers. Do not lie or provide false information. Remember to keep your hands where the police can see them. If you remain calm and follow all the orders the police give you, it falls onto their hands to provide you with the same level of safety and respect.
Tallahassee Criminal Defense AttorneyDon Pumphrey and the members at Pumphrey Law have years of experience representing individuals accused of crime in Tallahassee and across the state of Florida. It is an unfortunate reality that encounters with the police can turn violent and sometimes deadly. Don Pumphrey and the legal team at Pumphrey Law are prepared to fight for the rights of those who have had their constitutional rights ignored. If you or a loved one has witnessed or experienced police brutality that you believe was unlawful, call a Tallahassee criminal defense attorney today at (850) 681-777 and receive a free consultation regarding your case today.