Protecting Your Rights Throughout Eastern Iowa Since 1981

What to do when you encounter the police

On Behalf of | Apr 27, 2024 | Criminal Defense

It can be intimidating to interact with someone who has the power to put you in handcuffs and take you to jail. If you don’t know your rights, talking to the police can be very difficult.

Reviewing your legal rights can make it easier to handle encounters with the police with confidence. Here is what you should know:

When the police ask you questions

The police may ask questions if they suspect you may have violated laws. For example, a driver who is pulled over under the suspicion of drunk driving could be asked whether they had been drinking or if they left a bar. Answering such questions can always put you in legal danger. You could inadvertently admit to a crime, or say something that could later be interpreted as interfering with an official investigation.

You do, however, have the right to plead the Fifth. Pleading the Fifth entitles you to refuse to answer any questions that might lead to self-incrimination. If you want to assert your right to remain silent, do so clearly and without any ambiguity.

When the police ask to search your home or vehicle

The police could ask to search your home or vehicle. While you may suspect that the police will not find anything that would lead to an arrest and criminal trial, you may refuse to let the police search. 

Absent certain “exigent circumstances,” that involve an immediate threat to public safety or important evidence, the police have the right to search your home or vehicle only if you gave them permission, they have a warrant or incident to a lawful arrest. Any evidence collected during an unlawful search may be admissible in a court of law, so always refuse permission to protect your interests.

If you believe the police violated your rights and arrested you, you can reach out for legal help to strategize a defense.