Tips for handling an encounter with the police

On Behalf of | Jun 24, 2021 | Criminal Defense

When you find yourself stopped and questioned by law enforcement, there are some things you should and should not do. The entire encounter may wind up clearing you or instigating a more thorough investigation. 

The police are bound by legal procedures when it comes to speaking with the public. Discover some tips for dealing with the police, whether you are a suspect or not. 

How do I keep my feelings in check?

The police look for visual and non-visual cues when engaging with people. This includes speech patterns, eye contact and odors. Fidgeting can put police on edge, as can shoving your hands in and out of your pockets. Since the officer does not know if you have a weapon, keeping your hands visible may put the officer at ease. Your emotions may run high, but doing your best to remain even-tempered may go a long way. 

Do I have to answer police questions?

If at any time you want to end your discussion with the police, you can say so. While an officer may attempt to reassure you that the questions are innocent, you should understand that anything you say may work against you. The Miranda warning is something that sets your rights when under suspicion by authorities. The right to stop answering questions is a fundamental civil right. 

Can I leave?

At any time in your encounter, you may ask the police if you can leave. At this point, the officer has two choices: release or detain you. If the latter occurs, the officer must read you the full Miranda warning and then tell you why he or she is detaining you. 

An encounter with police may feel stressful. Understanding how your behavior may affect things and your rights to protect yourself goes a long way in getting through it.