Everyone has a different experience when interacting with the police, but there’s always a common element – it can be quite frightening. Luckily, there are ways to increase your chances of having a safe police encounter. Here are a few pieces of advice you should follow when the police stop you.
Keep Your Hands Visible
Normally, the first instructions you hear will be to keep your hands visible. It’s extremely important to keep this in mind throughout the entire interaction. During a police encounter, you may feel nervous, anxious, fearful, or a combination of these emotions. Without even thinking, you may feel compelled to put your hands in your pockets or somewhere else the police officer may consider suspicious. To avoid any misunderstandings, always keep your hands visible.
Be Polite and Respectful
This is possibly one of the most effective ways to ensure your police interaction is a safe and calm experience. Regardless of if you’re innocent or guilty, remain polite and quiet when interacting with a police officer. If you don’t feel comfortable speaking to them or answering their questions (besides identifying yourself), calmly let them know that you would like to speak to your lawyer first. According to the law, the police officer should respect that request and wait until a lawyer is present.
Do Not Argue
Do not, under any circumstances, argue with the police. If you think they are wrong or mishandling the situation, either politely tell them that you would like to speak to your lawyer or comply with their instructions. Anything else may be considered resistance, which may cause the officer to escalate the situation. As a citizen, you have the right to remain silent until a lawyer is present. By law, you’re only required to identify yourself. It’s always safer to be silent instead of argumentative.
Don’t Make Sudden Movements
No matter how the police interaction is going, you should not make any sudden movements. Whether it’s quickly moving your hands or your whole body, you want to remain as still as possible and only make slow movements. Officers are trained to respond to sudden movements. During your police encounter, they’re watching your body language and overall tension. If you make any sudden movements, they will respond quickly and the situation will escalate.
Don’t Resist Arrest
Never resist arrest, even if you’re innocent. Instead, if you think the police officer is wrong, ask for your lawyer. Remember that the goal is to have a safe police encounter. In order to ensure maximum safety, you should comply with the police at all times. Once your interaction with the police is over, you can file a formal complaint against the officer, or the jurisdiction, for their mishandling of the situation.
Talk to Your Lawyer
Anything you say can and will be used against you in court. Only share details about your police encounter with your attorney, and be sure to ask them for advice on what you can and can’t say in public. This will ensure your safety after the police encounter and minimize the risk of anything being used against you in court.
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