10 Questions To Ask In A Police Interaction
Are you wondering about the 10 questions to ask in a police interaction? This blog post will give you insight into everything you will want to ask and say if you are being detained or stopped by the cops! Read on for some insight on what to do and say if arrested, pulled over or questioned.
Unfair Police Interactions Happen All The Time
In the modern era, widespread issues like police brutality and racial injustices continue to grow at unprecedented rates. It seems as though it’s almost every other day where reports are made of innocent teenagers and civilians being arrested, sentenced, or, worse, shot and killed over a barrage of misunderstandings, racial biases, and legal violations of a civilian’s fundamental human rights.
Applying Your Basic Constitutional Rights Is Important
For these reasons, whenever being pulled over or questioned by law enforcement officers, one must know and be able to apply their basic constitutional rights as American citizens. Not only is knowing your rights crucial but knowing what NOT to say is equally as important.
It’s Important To Be Wise When Talking To The Cops!
If you are arrested, anything you say or do can be held against you in a court of law, so it’s essential to be wise in your interactions with officers. Through this article, we will not only provide you with knowledge of your constitutional rights but also give you some key questions that you should ask during a police interaction.
Here Are 10 Crucial Questions You Must Ask If Stopped By A Police Officer
QUESTION 1: “WHAT’S YOUR NAME AND BADGE NUMBER, OFFICER?”
First off, you must ask the officer for their credentials. This is simply to verify that they are indeed a legitimate officer and that you are not being hustled, scammed, or violated in any way whatsoever. Also, confirming that they are an actual officer will make you feel more comfortable in an inherently tense and stressful situation.
PRO TIP: Read our guide to flight from an officer in Louisiana!
QUESTION 2: “AM I BEING DETAINED?”
One of the first questions that you should ask is whether or not you are being detained. If so, you would like to know the reasoning and verify the basis behind this. First of all, it’s essential to know exactly what being detained means. If an individual is detained, they will often be requested to wait in a specified location until further instruction. This can be in the police officer’s vehicle, the station, or any other site where they will be able to keep track of you. Being detained requires that you stay in the officer’s responsibility, so you cannot leave the premises. If you are detained, the officers will then conduct an investigation (e.g., a search of your car or any of your belongings), and if nothing outstanding is found, you’re then free to go.
This question is critical because if you are not being detained, then, constitutionally, you are allowed to leave, and the officers cannot hold you in an investigation. So, if an officer says that you’re not going to be detained, it’s important to reinforce that you do not have to answer any questions or stay under their supervision.
QUESTION 3: “HOW LONG WILL I BE DETAINED FOR?”
Despite there being no hard-set rules on how long officers are allowed to hold detainees, they are not allowed to hold you in custody for a clearly unfair amount of time. Therefore, it’s essential to ask this question and verify that the officer is not unjust.
QUESTION 4: “AM I UNDER ARREST?”
After officers conduct their initial search, they will either release you or ask further questions regarding something they may have found in their investigation. It’s important to ask whether or not they’re arresting you.
It’s also important to note that being detained and arrested are two very different things, with varying requisites. Specifically, if you are being detained, officers are required to have “reasonable suspicion” of your involvement in any potential crime and can conduct an investigation, albeit brief and non-restricting. However, if an officer tells you that they’re arresting you, you must confirm that officers hold “probable cause.”
QUESTION 5: “WHY AM I BEING DETAINED/ARRESTED?”
Possibly the most important question of all, it’s crucial that you verify the officers are detaining or arresting you on a legitimate basis. Officers can’t simply detain you out of a hunch or feeling, as is the case in many racially unjustified arrests, so confirm that there is an actual crime they are suspecting you of committing. Furthermore, understanding what officers suspect you of is key to understanding the next steps you must take in order to handle the situation in the safest and most just way possible.
QUESTION 6: “AM I ALLOWED TO LEAVE?”
If an officer confirms that you’re not going to be detained or taken under arrest, you must then ask if you’re free to leave. Unless you have given them a reason for them to have probable suspicion, you should almost always be allowed to leave. Once the officer fully confirms that you can leave, you are then free to leave the situation.
QUESTION 7: “CAN I SEE A WARRANT?”
There are two scenarios where you must ask officers whether or not they have a valid warrant:
- If officers request to conduct a search of your belongings, vehicle, home, or any other possession of yours.
- If officers are saying that they are arresting you.
Without a valid warrant in either of these situations, law enforcement would be violating your fundamental constitutional rights if they follow through on their intention.
QUESTION 8: “WHAT IS THE LEGAL BASIS BEHIND THIS SEARCH?”
This question is conditional, meaning it only applies if the police are indeed requesting to search. As a citizen, you must understand the three types of authorities officers could potentially have when conducting a search to best figure out how to approach the situation and confirm the officer’s legal authority.
Reasonable Suspicion vs. Probable Cause vs. Search Warrant
In ascending order, above are listed the three types of authorities officers could potentially have that give them valid reasoning to search. Courts require that officers present at least one of these before conducting a search, with each indicating a different amount of authority in the investigation. Meaning that a search warrant, for example, will give much greater jurisdiction and power to an officer when conducting a search than reasonable suspicion. It’s important to understand this in order to make sure you aren’t being mistreated.
QUESTION 9: “CAN I TALK TO MY ATTORNEY?”
Suppose the previous questions haven’t resulted in you being let go, and you feel as though you are unable to figure out a way out of the situation or that you may accidentally say/ask the wrong thing. In that case, it’s important to try and speak to your attorney. Your attorney will not only prevent any constitutional violations from occurring, but they will ensure that you have the highest probability of getting out of the situation in the safest way possible.
Attorneys are meant to prevent law enforcement officers from infringing upon your rights, so they are essentially a civilian’s secret weapon in any confrontation with the police. Some people use it as their last resort, and others as their first; it all just depends on how comfortable an individual feels in handling themselves and holding their own against officers. Regardless, however, it’s a citizen’s right to be able to speak to their attorney before answering any questions.
QUESTION 10: “COULD YOU STOP QUESTIONING ME UNTIL AN ATTORNEY IS PRESENT?”
Even if officers say that you can speak to an attorney, they will often try to ask questions or investigate before that can occur. In that case, you should ask the officers to refrain from asking any questions until your legal representative arrives.
And most importantly, if officers persist in questioning you while your attorney is absent, it’s fundamental to remember that you are guaranteed the right to remain silent, regardless of what they may say.
As American citizens, it’s our right to be treated fairly and according to the justice system. Being an informed citizen knowledgeable of both your rights and how to interact in a police encounter is something all Americans should strive to achieve.
Now we will look at a few tips to help you navigate your police interaction. Doing all of these things will lead to the best outcome for any charges you may be facing.
3 Important Tips To Keep In Mind During Your Police Interaction
Read through these tips and we know you’ll be happy with the outcome of your police interaction!
TIP 1: BE POLITE NO MATTER WHAT
This tip is a very important one many people forget. Maybe you’ve been pulled over and you are being treated unfairly. Maybe you have been pulled over and you’re in a rush to get somewhere. No matter what the case may be – you always want to be polite.
Remember that the police has control in this situation. So your behaviors will impact how the police officer interacts with you too and his or her decision to let you off with a warning or detain you.
TIP 2: ALWAYS KEEP YOUR HANDS VISIBLE
If you are being questioned by a police officer, you never want to reach into your pockets, glove compartment, or anywhere else in a way that could be interpreted as a threat. Even if you don’t have a gun or weapon, you want to behave in a way that is very transparent so that the police officer and you stay safe.
TIP 3: IT’S YOUR RIGHT TO SPEAK TO AN ATTORNEY
As you know, it’s your right to speak to an attorney and remain silent if you feel like talking will get you in further trouble. Use your best judgement and exercise your right to remain silent if you think it will be beneficial.
Conclusion: 10 Questions To Ask In A Police Interaction Or If You’re Being Detained
We hope this post has been informative and has given you insight on your rights. If you are facing any type of criminal charges in Louisiana, it’s always a great idea to speak to a lawyer. The Barkemeyer Law Firm is the best criminal lawyer who can help you navigate the tricky waters of police interactions and criminal charges.
You should now have a better understanding of the 10 questions to ask in a police interaction or if you are being arrested or detained!