What Are Your Rights If You Are Stopped by Police?

Being stopped by the police for any reason can be a traumatic experience, especially if you are likely to be charged with a crime. It is important that you understand your rights if you are stopped by police so you can respond calmly and appropriately.

Police need probable cause. The police must have a reason to stop you. If the police officer does observe suspicious behavior or has reason to suspect you may be armed or dangerous, the law does allow the officer to conduct a “pat down” search of your person and to search the inside of your car.

You can stay in your car. While it is legal for you to stay in your car, many times a police officer will ask you to exit the vehicle as a safety precaution. If this happens, it is usually best to comply.

You must stop at checkpoints. You are required to stop at any checkpoints set up by police.

Police can search under certain circumstances. The police are allowed to search your vehicle under the following circumstances:

  • You consent to a search;
  • An officer has a warrant to search the vehicle;
  • Something illegal is in plain view;
  • You have been arrested and the search is incident to the arrest;
  • An officer has probable cause to suspect a crime;
  • An officer believes there is evidence that will be destroyed.

You can remain silent. You have the right to refuse to answer any questions; usually the best choice if you believe you are suspected of a crime is to invoke this right and ask for an attorney.

The Cogdell Law Firm is a full service criminal litigation and appellate law firm. We provide client-focused representation at all stages of the process, whether our clients are seeking to avoid charges, have been charged, or are seeking reversal of a conviction on appeal. When results matter most, contact Dan Cogdell at (713) 426-22444 or info@cogdell-law.com.