What to do when stopped by the police
What to do, and what NOT to do when stopped by the police during a traffic stop. Too many times people, because of fear, make mistakes that cost them, in increased fines, time in jail, and even their lives. Knowing how to act will protect you, the officer(s), and people around you from harm.
You see lights behind you . . .First, don't panic; the officer may be after someone else. Slow your car down, when safe, and using your turn signal, pull to the right. As you are pulling over, DO NOT WATCH THE OFFICER, watch the road. Look for other drivers, stopped cars, and pedestrians. Pull all the way to the right shoulder, DO NOT stop in the middle of the street.
0k, I stopped . . .First and foremost, make no sudden moves. If the weather is not extreme (too hot or cold) turn off your motor, and turn off your stereo. If it is night time, turn on the dome light so the offices can see inside the car. Roll down both your driver's side and front passenger windows; and place both hands on the steering wheel and await the officer's approach.
If there are passengers in the rear, and your windows are tinted, roll down the rear windows too, and instruct everyone in the car to put their hands in plain sight and to remain still as the officer(s) approach.
Remember, your car might be approached from either side, and by more than one officer, this is normal, no reason to worry. The key is to show the officer(s) you are not a threat to them, and they will relax; and the stop will be easier moving forward.
The officer asks you, "Do you know why I stopped you?"While you never want to admit to anything that can be used against you, you NEVER want to lie to an officer. The best answer to that question is, "I am not sure, please tell me."
One of the things that will help is the truth. I personally have avoided tickets just by sticking to the truth. See, police are lied to on a regular basis, when someone is honest officers will often release you with just a warning. Truth is good, but NEVER admit to any crime, even if they have you cold; respectfully tell the police, you want an attorney before any questioning.
The officer wants to search my car . . .The simple answer is, "I would be happy to comply, please provide me a warrant for the search." Your refusal to allow a search CANNOT be used against you; you have the constitutional right to refuse a search request.
With that said, depending on the situation, the police have the right to search your car, even without a warrant. If the police tell you they are going to search anyway, DO NOT resist. Respectfully tell the officer, the search is being done without your consent, but that you will comply with his/her/their orders. If it turns out a search was done in violation of your rights, your attorney can work to get anything found excluded from evidence.
You are under arrest . . .First, and most importantly, do not panic; while it seems like the end of the world, you have rights, and the more you cooperate with the police, the better things will go moving forward.
No matter what the police tell you, SAY NOTHING. Tell the police you want to speak to an attorney prior to any questions.
Remember, the police have the right to LIE TO YOU . . . Let me say that again, YES, THE POLICE CAN LIE to you. They can tell you nearly anything that gets you to admit to the crime . . . Do not fall for this trick. Take the opportunity to SHUT UP! It sounds rough, but I cannot tell you how many defendants I worked with that were charged with crimes only because they admitted to the criminal act. The less you say, the less your attorney has to fight to protect you.
Finally, DO NOT resist, NO NOT put your hands in your pocket, stand still, and follow the instructions of the officers. If there are conflicting instructing, play statue, and tell the officer closest, you want to cooperate, but you are being told different things. Ask the officer what he/she wants you to do, and then OBEY.
Remember, most people that get hurt, or even killed, by the police simply resisted or failed to follow basic instructions. By obeying the directions on the police, you will have an opportunity to defend yourself, without having to fight additional charges such as Resisting Arrest and Assault / Battery of a Police Officer.
I need an attorney . . .YES YOU DO.
Again, shut up. This includes while in jail. DO NOT talk to the other inmates about your situation. The police can use the information from other inmates against you.
TALK TO NO ONE ABOUT YOUR CHARGES EXCEPT YOUR ATTORNEY. . . PERIOD.
This includes on the phone when you call a friend or family member, conversations that occur most anywhere in a jail, the holding cells, an interrogation room, or even on the phones can be used against you during a trial.
Do not lie to your attorney. I cannot count how many times I have told a defendant that, and later find out what they told me was a lie. If you lie, your attorney CANNOT protect you. Trust me when I tell you, the truth will always come out. Attorneys can only fix what we know about, so tell them the truth.
Relax . . .Yes, I said relax. I know being arrested and charged is difficult; but the more stressed you become, the harder it is to solve your problems. Stay clam during the stop, in the police car, in the jail, and in court . . . Let your attorney stress, and solve your problems for you.