Getting stopped by the police or having them knock at your door can be a scary or emotional experience. If you are involved in a traffic stop or if you are at your home, there are some ways to ensure the encounter is safe while protecting your legal rights.
Be calm and respectful
If you are in your car and you are being pulled over, try to pick a safe spot to do so. When an officer approaches your vehicle, remain calm and furnish the information they ask for. Refrain from raising your voice or using profanity — your disrespect may be misconstrued as a sign of guilt.
If you are somewhere other than your car, such as a business or your residence, be as respectful as possible when asked for information, identification, etc. If the police show up at your home, speak to them through the door. Be courteous, but do not invite them into your home without a warrant.
Do not run
If a cop is attempting to pull you over, don’t try to outrun them. If the encounter takes place somewhere else, you should also always stay put. The police are very likely to interpret running as a sign of guilt.
Know your rights
Everyone has the right to remain silent. Not responding to questions is better than saying something that later may incriminate you.
If you are pulled over, you do not have to allow the police to search your vehicle without a warrant. You are also not required to take a field sobriety test. If you are a passenger in a car that is being pulled over, ask if you are free to leave.
If the police have come to your residence, do not ask them inside unless they have a warrant. Ask for identification, and speak to them through the door.
If they are in possession of a warrant, ask to see it and continue to remain silent. Watch what the officers do and where they go, but try not to interfere.
It is a good idea for you to document anything the police take, where they found it and if it is contained in the warrant. If possible, photograph the scene and document badge numbers, names and any other information that may later be used in your defense if you end up in court.