Your Rights with Police

Q:If I refuse to let police search my home / car / person, they will assume I’ve done something wrong and arrest me. Should I just let them search me?

A:No. If the police ask to search your home or car or body, always refuse. If you give the police permission to search, the courts will view the search as legal. And remember, if police ask your permission to search, it probably means they lack enough evidence to force a search.

This is where police will use tricks and intimidation to convince you to consent to a search. Don’t be fooled.

You have nothing to lose by refusing a search, but everything to lose by consenting to one. If you refuse a search and the police search you anyway, we can probably get any evidence found during the search thrown out.

During a police encounter, your goal should be to avoid a criminal conviction, not an arrest.

Q:
What exactly are “Miranda” rights?

A:If police try to question you after arresting—technically, placing you “in custody”—you, they must read you your Miranda rights. Those four rights are:

  1. You have the right to remain silent.
  2. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.
  3. You have the right to an attorney.
  4. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you.

Often times, people mistakenly believe that police must read these rights whenever they arrest someone. They do not. An officer must read you these rights only if the officer (1) intends to questions you (2) after placing you in custody.

Therefore, any statements you make after being read these rights will be used against you. If during a police encounter, an officer reads you these rights, do two things: (1) Ask for an attorney; and (2) be quiet. Tell the officer “I’m going to remain silent. I’d like to speak with my attorney, Kelly Ann Booth.”

No one ever talked their way out of an arrest. And despite what a police officer will tell you, he will not charge with less, let you go, or “go easier” on you if you admit to a crime.

Q:
What is “Probable Cause?”

A:Probable cause is evidence demonstrating a reasonable belief that criminal activity is probably taking place or evidence showing a fair probability that evidence of a crime will be found. It is more than an officer’s “hunch,” but often not much more.


Q:
Can I be rude to a cop? If I am, can he arrest me?

A:Yes. A police officer can arrest you for any reason, or no reason at all. But don’t worry. The government must charge you with a crime within 72 hours (weekends and holidays excluded) or let you go.

And in this case, the United States Supreme Court has spoken. In Houston v. Hill, the Court wrote:

Today’s decision reflects the constitutional requirement that, in the face of verbal challenges to police action, officers and municipalities must respond with restraint. We are mindful that the preservation of liberty depends in part upon the maintenance of social order. But the First Amendment recognizes, wisely we think, that a certain amount of expressive disorder not only is inevitable in a society committed to individual freedom, but must itself be protected if that freedom would survive.

So while you may be arrested for being rude to a police officer, it is highly doubtful that you are committing a crime by being rude to an officer.