Most laypeople know that they have some legal rights when law enforcement pulls them over or stops them on the street, but what those rights are and how far they extend depend on the specific circumstances of your stop. Today it’s crucial to understand your rights, but cooperate with police as much as possible, since simple stops can turn deadly.
Here’s a closer look at the rights you have while being detained in Lubbock, TX.
When you’re pulled over
Drivers and passengers both have the right to remain silent, and passengers may be free to leave—politely ask before you leave, however, as it can cause further agitation in an already tense situation.
When the officer comes up to your car, have your car parked, with the windows partly open and your hands on the steering wheel. Do not make sudden moves, and while you’re not required to answer questions, it’s smart to cooperate to a reasonable extent—never resist arrest, for example, even if you invoke your right to an attorney. Speaking of which, if you’re arrested, immediately ask for a lawyer and do not answer any questions until you have one.
When the police stop you in public
Generally, you don’t have to answer the police’s questions unless you’re officially detained, meaning that a reasonable person would not feel free to voluntarily leave the officer’s presence. To detain someone, an officer needs to have reasonable suspicion that the person has committed or is about to commit an offense.
Some lawyers and advocacy groups recommend that you ask the officers if you are being detained. You don’t have to consent to a search, but law enforcement may carry one out anyway—they can do so if they suspect you have a weapon on your person. Objecting to the search may not stop them from performing it, but getting the objection on the record is good for preserving your rights if charges are pressed. You also are not required to answer questions about your citizenship status and residency.
When the police show up at your home
Unless the law enforcement officers have a legitimate warrant from a judge, they cannot enter your home without your permission or arrest you. Ask to see identification, and talk to them through the door whenever possible.
If they have a warrant to enter your home, check to see that it has the correct address and describes the areas to be searched. Do not talk to the police while they’re conducting their search—just observe and write down everything that happened when they’re finished.
If you think the police have violated your rights, be sure to collect as much information as possible, including names and badge numbers, times, dates and as accurate a recollection of the events as you can put together. Your attorney, whether private or a public defender, will need this information to challenge the police.
Do you have rights while being detained in Lubbock, TX? Yes you do, and the Law Office of Rob Biggers can help if you believe the police violated them. Call us for a consultation.
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