Know Your Rights When Stopped by Police
Part I: The Top 5 Most Important Things to Know

Black Lives Matter.  Let’ s just start with that.  Right now, we are doing all we can to listen, to read, and to be educated by Black voices.  We wholeheartedly stand with the demands of the Black community to defund and demilitarize the police, and echo the call for reparations for the lifetimes of devastation to the Black community.  Reparations must be made.

This is a time of protest.  So we want you to know your rights when being confronted with a police officer.  We’ll start with the basic and most important tenants, and in our next few posts we’ll hash things out further in the contexts of a protest interaction or getting pulled over in your car.

Here are the top FIVE things to remember during an interaction with a police officer:

  1. Remain calm.  This is so important.  It will help everything that happens afterward.  Take a few breaths and take a moment to rest deeply inside. Keep your hands visible and do not many any sudden movements.
  2. Start recording on your phone, with the camera front-facing.   You have the right to record all interactions with police officers.  You have no duty to tell them you are recording, but if the interaction has already started, do not reach into your pocket without telling them what you are doing.  Announce slowly and neutrally, “I know I have a right to record this conversation, so I am going to get my phone out of my pocket so I can begin recording.”
  3. STOP SPEAKING and ask for a lawyer.  Make clear to the officer right away that you have been advised to invoke your right to silence and to an attorney.  In plain language, you do not wish to speak to the police and you want an attorney if you are under arrest.  The officers will probably ask you questions anyway.  Politely but firmly repeat this refrain in response to any question: “I have been advised not to answer any questions and I would like to have an attorney present if I am not free to go.”
  4. Do not consent to any searches.  If the officers ask whether they can search you or your possessions, say you do not consent to any searches of any kind.  Officers have the right to see your identification and registration and insurance if you are driving a vehicle, though.  If they have reason to believe you have committed a crime, they have the right to pat the outside of your pockets.  If you are in the car, they can ask you to step outside of the vehicle and you must comply.
  5. Ask if you are free to leave or if you are being arrested.  If they respond that you are free to go, leave the area immediately.  If they are going to arrest you, the best thing to do is shut up.  You cannot talk your way out of the arrest.  It’s really true that everything you say and do will be used against you in criminal court.  So be quiet.  They will take you to the police station and there you have the right to make a call to a lawyer, either a private attorney or a public defender.Then: call us at (206) 777-5627.  We are available at 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.


Andre Dayani is lead criminal defense attorney at Dayani Law Firm. He offers free consultations and will  fight for you after a criminal charge.  Send him a message below or call directly for a consult at (206) 777-5627