If someone unjustly attacks you and puts your life at risk, you are allowed to defend yourself. But what do you do if that person is a police officer? It’s a hard question. There’s no easy answer. Officers are called to protect and serve the people. But sometimes they wrongfully harm citizens. That’s where rights come in. It’s important to know your rights when under arrest. In this week’s blog, we’ll review your rights and show you what you can do if those rights have been violated.
Your Rights When Under Arrest
First, let’s review some of your basic rights. Police can put you under arrest if they suspect you’ve committed a crime. However, they have to tell you the crime you’ve been suspected of committing, and they have to “mirandize” you. This includes saying:
- You have the right to remain silent and to refuse to answer questions.
- Anything you say may be used against you in a court of law.
- You have the right to consult an attorney before speaking to the police and to have an attorney present during questioning now or in the future.
- If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you before any questioning if you wish.
- If you decide to answer questions now without an attorney present, you will still have the right to stop answering at any time until you talk to an attorney.
Along with these rights, police are not allowed to use violent force unless you resist arrest or act violently. Police are not allowed to prohibit or confiscate recordings of the arrest. If you remain compliant and do not resist arrest, there should be no reason for an officer to use force.
Stopped vs. Under Arrest
Second, it’s important to know the difference between being stopped by police and being under arrest. You have different rights when under arrest. Again, no officer can detain or arrest you unless you’re suspected of committing a crime. But getting stopped by police (which includes traffic stops) can happen for all sorts of reasons. In such cases, you can:
- Remain silent (but they can arrest you for refusing to identify yourself)
- Ask, “Am I free to go?”
- Refuse permission to search you or your property.
- Refuse to answer where you’re from, where you’re going, or whether you’re a US citizen.
However, if you are under arrest, the police can frisk you, search your clothes, and search your vehicle (if it’s a traffic stop).