• Patricia Brandt, Attorney

Protect Yourself During Police Stops, Arrests, and Questioning

Updated: Jun 24, 2020

Have you heard terms such as ‘unconscious bias,’ ‘excessive use of force,’ or ‘civil rights violations’ on the news or on social media this month? Of course, you have. You have heard these terms many times during the whole of your life because America cannot solve the balancing problem between crime prevention and your rights.

In Cleveland, these same issues pick at a fresh wound each time the police kill in the course of their actions. Despite Cleveland Police Department’s process of reform instituted since the death of Tamir Rice in 2014, aggressive police tactics are the department’s standard operating procedure. This is evident by the police aggressively interrupting protests against police brutality this month by using brutal measures such as tear gas, rubber bullets, wood batons, and pepper spray.

While we worry about the next time we or our children must interact with police we have the obligation to understand our rights and teach our children their rights to protect ourselves the next time we are speaking with a member of law enforcement.

What are my rights when I am stopped by police in a public place?

A police officer may stop any person whom he reasonably suspects might be committing a crime. If you are unsure if you are under arrest, you may ask the officer; if you are not under arrest, you are free to leave at any time.

A police officer may ask you to provide identification or information to identify you such as your name, birthdate, and address. It is illegal to give the officer false information in response to these questions. You have the right to not answer any other questions.

An officer may pat down your clothing to check for weapons. You have the right to not say anything.

An officer may ask if you will allow him to search your trunk or glove box. You have the right to not say anything.

What are my rights when I am arrested?

When the officer tells you that you are not free to leave, you are under arrest. You have the right to not say anything.

The officer can use a reasonable amount of force to make an arrest and this amount of force may seem unreasonable to you. It is important to never resist arrest or argue with police.

What are my rights when I am arrested, and they question me?

You have the right to be informed of your rights, called the Miranda warning. This is the right to remain silent and to have an attorney present during questioning. The right to remain silent is especially important. It means you do not have to answer any questions once you have identified yourself.

You have the right to stop being questioned by the police once you say aloud that you want an attorney present.

Your right to remain silent continues through the arrest process and for the duration you are in jail. Most jails and prisons have audio and video recording 24/7 and every word you say, including on the phone with friends and family, is recorded. Conversations with your attorney are never to be recorded.

What should I do if the police violated my rights?

Consult an attorney right away.

It is possible for the charges against you to be thrown out if a lawyer can prove that police misconduct occurred. Many times, evidence gathered by police in violation of your rights cannot be used against you in court.

Call or email Brandt Law Ltd. for a free assessment of your situation. The decision to hire an attorney is an important one and should not be based solely on an advertisement.

All information displayed on the Brandt Law Ltd. website is informational and shall not be deemed as legal advice. If you’re currently dealing with an individual legal situation, you’re invited to contact me through email or by phone. Until an attorney-client relationship has been established, I urge that you avoid sharing any confidential information.

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