Being stopped by the police is a stressful experience no matter the situation. However, as a resident of the United States of America, you have certain rights that are protected when you are stopped by the police. Understanding your rights can help you avoid further legal issues and ensure that you do not incriminate yourself.
The right to remain silent
You are not limited to remaining silent only after you have been placed under arrest. However, if you want to exercise your right to remain silent, you typically are required to say so out loud. In many states, you do have to provide your name if an officer asks, but you are not obligated to provide any additional information.
The right to refuse a search
Police have the right to pat you down if they have reason to believe that you are carrying a weapon, but you are not legally obliged to consent to a search of your body or your belongings. It is important to note that you refusing this search may not prevent the officer from conducting it. However, vocalizing your objection to this police search can be useful if the search results in a case that goes to trial.
Questions about your birthplace
If you are in the United States but were not born here, you are not legally obligated to answer questions that pertain to your place of birth, your citizenship or how you entered the country. While there are separate rules that are enforced at border crossings or airports, police who stop you do not have a right to this type of information.
If you have been stopped by police and any of these rights were violated, you should immediately contact a criminal law attorney. This attorney may review your claims as well as the report that discusses when police stopped you if you need representation in a court of law.