Amidst all of the reports of violence and officer involved shootings, tensions are at an all-time high between civilians and police. Unfortunately, this in turn has bred a culture of people who fear and even hate law enforcement, causing police officers to fear for their safety and leading to further instances of violence.
What do I do if I'm stopped by Police?
Fortunately, there are several things that you can do as a citizen to have positive interactions with police and minimize your chances of a violent encounter.
If you are ever stopped or approached by police, make sure you do the following:
- Do immediately pull over. Lower your window, keep your hands on the wheel, and wait for the officer to arrive.
- Do not continue to drive to your destination. Any delay in your stop may cause an officer to be suspicious of criminal behavior, even if you may simply be looking for a safe place to pull over. Police officers are well trained and will choose the safest location to initiate a stop based on a variety of circumstances. If you see flashing lights, pull to the side of the road immediately, shut the engine, and place the keys on the dash.
- Do keep your hands visible. Grasp the top of the steering wheel until the officer asks you to reach for your license and registration. If they are located in the glove box, your pocket, or any other area out of the officer’s view, let them know before reaching. Reach slowly and place your hands back on the wheel afterwards.
- Do not search through your vehicle for anything before being asked to do so. An officer may feel threatened if they cannot see your hands and will increase your chances of a violent encounter.
- Do stay seated in your vehicle unless the officer asks you to step out.
- Do not exit your vehicle unless asked to do so. Approaching an officer can not only be seen as a threat, but it could also put yourself in danger of being struck by oncoming traffic.
- Do remain calm and respectful at all times. A little courtesy will go a long way.
- Do not interfere with or obstruct the police in any way. Likewise, do not ever lie to a police officer. This is can easily cause you to face additional obstruction of justice charges.
- Do let the officer know of any weapons you have in your possession. If you are have a concealed carry permit and are carrying your weapon, politely inform the officer and let them know. While you are well within your rights to not tell the officer, they may overreact if they find it themselves.
- Do not make any movements towards a weapon at any time during your encounter with law enforcement. Police officers are armed and are prepared to discharge their weapons if they feel their lives or the lives of others are endangered. Do not give them a reason to cause you harm.
- Do exercise your right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. If you are arrested or questioned in relation to a crime, exercise your Fifth Amendment rights and refrain from discussing your case without the presence of your attorney.
- Do not resist physically. While you have every right to provide verbal resistance to an officer’s questioning and refuse any searches that an officer may request without a warrant of probable cause, never become belligerent or physical. This will only make your situation worse.
Arrested? Call 941-321-7004!
At The Law Office of Wyndel G. Darville, PLLC, our skilled Sarasota criminal defense lawyer has fought to defend the rights of the accused for more than 15 years. If you have been arrested or are being investigated for a crime, we can provide the aggressive representation and support you need to minimize your chances of conviction.
To find out more about what we can do for you, call our office or schedule a no-cost case review today.