It’s been a huge issue in the news these days; someone gets pulled over, the interaction escalates into something more than it should be, and it ends in an altercation. What are your rights when you’re pulled over?
1) You have the right to remain silent
When you are pulled over by a cop, your rights are NOT surrendered because there is nothing that you’ve been proven to have done wrong. Exercise your right to remain silent. Although it is completely legal for an officer to ask for your license, registration, insurance, and other basic information, you do not have to provide any additional information beyond that. In fact, cops will coerce you to talk in the hopes that you say something that is self-condemning. Simply say the phrase, “I exercise my right to remain silent” to let the officer know that while you want to exercise your constitutional right to remain silent.
2) Cops can only pull you over with probable cause
An expired tag, suspicion of driving under the influence, and a broken taillight are all legitimate excuses for an officer to pull you over but cops cannot stop you without just cause. However, if they DO have probable cause, make sure you pull over to an area of safety. If you are in an area without safety lanes, signal to the officer that you are intending to stop when a safe area comes up; otherwise, the police may misinterpret your continued driving as refusal to comply.
3) Remain calm, remain polite
At the end of the day, we all have high stress jobs, including the police. They’d rather just quickly take care of the situation and send you on your way. Remain calm and polite; you will have an opportunity to present your side of the argument in a courtroom, where a judge arbitrates the situation. This prevents the cop from taking advantage of the situation and creates balance to an otherwise imbalanced system. However, to get to that point, you must remain calm and polite. Don’t incriminate yourself by providing more information than necessary and get on your way as soon as you’re allowed.
You or your vehicle cannot be searched without probable cause or your expressed consent. The exception to this is if the officer presents a warrant, in which case you MUST comply with a search. However, even in such scenarios, officers CANNOT reach into your pockets nor can he tell you to empty them out; their search of your physical being must extend so far as to a patdown and nothing more. If you or your vehicle is searched without consent, probable cause, or a warrant don’t get angry or hostile. Simply say to the officer, “I do not consent to this search” to reiterate to him or her that he does not have your permission for the search.
5) “Am I free to go?”
As aforementioned, you do NOT need to talk to an officer beyond providing basic information (name, registration, etc.,) but you SHOULD ask them, “Am I free to go?” This verbally allows the police officer to know that you are NOT willing to stay and are NOT willing to talk to him beyond your basic information. If the officer stops you or detains you, remember to go back to Rule 1 and let them know that you are going to remain silent.
These five golden rules will help you stay out of trouble without escalating the situation. Keep these tips in mind the next time you’re pulled over by a police officer. If you would like to discuss this, or any other criminal defense matter with an experienced San Diego criminal defense attorney, call or email Alex Ozols today.
What to do if you are arrested for a crime?
If you are arrested for a crime the number one thing you can do is stay calm and not let your anxiety take over. We get way to many calls of people saying that they talked to the police for 20-30 minutes about everything and about their past. We ask them why and they tell us that they were caught up in the moment or they were stressed out. Unfortunately, this is your life and anything you say to the police can be used against you. They are not trying to be your friend and they are not going to call you to hang out later. They are trying to get more evidence against you in order to strengthen the district attorney’s case. In San Diego, criminal lawyers always advise their client to remain silent throughout the whole process; there is literally nothing that you can do that can help you.
If you are arrested for a crime in the county of San Diego, feel free to reach out and call us for a consultation. We are always here to help!
Ozols Law Firm
8880 Rio San Diego Dr. #22,
San Diego, CA,
619 288 8357