:: RIGHTS WHEN INTERACTING WITH POLICE
Note: These were borrowed from NYCGA.net, a division of the Occupy Movement.
What should I do if I am stopped or questioned by the police?
Police may stop and briefly detain you only if there is reasonable suspicion that you committed, are committing, or are about to commit a crime. You should ask if you are free to leave. If you are issued a summons or arrested, and you refuse to produce ID or tell officers who you are, the police may detain you until you can be positively identified. “Talking back” to police officers or running away, even if you believe what is happening is unreasonable, can lead to your arrest. However, you do not have to answer questions by the police.
Do I need to consent to a search by police officers?
You never have to consent to a search of yourself, your belongings or your car. If you do consent to a search, it can affect your rights later in court. If the police say they have a search warrant, ask to see it and check that the information is correct. If they don’t have one or it is incorrect, say clearly and loudly, “I do not consent to this search.” This will probably not stop the police from searching you, but it will preserve your argument that the search was unlawful, if you have to go to court. If you interfere with or obstruct the police, you can be arrested. Police cannot arrest you simply for refusing to consent to a search, and they cannot search you without probable cause to believe you have done something illegal.
What do I do if I think a police officer is violating my rights?
For your safety and to protect your legal rights, you should always follow orders from police officers while demonstrating. If you feel the order was unlawful or improper, or you were mistreated by a police officer, you have other opportunities for redress at a later time. If you refuse an officer’s orders, you can be subject to arrest. But there are some things you can do if you feel an officer is acting unlawfully or unreasonably.
If you are arrested and the judge finds that you were arrested for engaging in First Amendment-protected activity, the charges may be dropped. Don’t skip your court date, or a warrant can be issued for your arrest.
How should I behave if I get arrested to avoid additional charges?
Stay calm and in control of your words, body language and emotions. Don’t get into an argument with the police. Remember, anything you say or do can be used against you. Keep your hands where the police can see them. Don’t run. Don’t touch any police officer. Don’t resist, even if you believe you are innocent. If you complain at the scene, or tell the police they’re wrong, do so in a non-confrontational way that will not intensify the scene.
What is “resisting arrest”?
Intentionally preventing or attempting to prevent a police officer from conducting an authorized arrest of yourself or another person. Resisting arrest is a crime. If you see another demonstrator being arrested, you could be charged with “resisting arrest” if you attempt to prevent a police officer from making the arrest.
If I get arrested, what should I do to protect my rights?
It is a good idea to identify a lawyer or legal organization ahead of time who you can call if you are arrested. Many organizations, including the National Lawyers’ Guild and Legal Aid Society, provide free or reduced-cost representation.
If you are arrested, ask for a lawyer immediately. Do your best to remember officers’ names, badge numbers, patrol car numbers and physical descriptions. Write down everything you remember as soon as possible. Try to get witness’s names and phone numbers. If you are injured, take photos of the injuries as soon as possible. Ask for copies of any medical treatment files.
You have the right to remain silent and the right to talk to a lawyer. Don’t tell the police anything except your name and address. Don’t give any explanations, excuses or stories, or sign any statements. Never answer questions without a lawyer present. You can make your defense later, in court, based on what you and your lawyer decide is best.
If you have a lawyer, ask to see him or her immediately. If you can’t afford a lawyer, you have the right to a free one. You should request a lawyer as soon as possible, and be prepared to make the request more than once. Don’t say anything to police without speaking to a lawyer.
Within a reasonable time after your arrest or booking, ask the police to contact a family member or friend. If you are permitted to make a phone call, anything you say at the precinct may be recorded or listened to. Never talk about the facts of your case over the telephone. Do not make any decisions in your case or sign any statements until you have talked with a lawyer.
Do I have the right to defend myself if I am assaulted by a police officer?
You cannot use physical force to resist an arrest by a police officer. In addition, a police officer may use physical force to the extent that he or she reasonably believes is necessary to make the arrest, prevent you from escaping custody, or defend himself or herself from another person he or she reasonably believes will imminently use physical force. In other circumstances, you have the right to use physical force on another person, including a police officer, when and to the extent you reasonably believe is necessary to defend yourself or someone else from immediate, unlawful physical force (not to defend yourself from arrest). This does not apply if you were the initial aggressor.
However, it is not advisable to physically engage with police officers. Even if you reasonably believe you have a right to defend yourself or someone else, there is always a possibility that you will be arrested, and even convicted, because of your actions. It is best to avoid such actions, to the extent possible. If you feel that you were mistreated by the police, you can always file a complaint with the Civilian Complaint Review Board. We cannot represent everyone who emails us, but we may be able to help.
WEARETHELION DOES NOT ENDORSE VIOLENCE, CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE, OR RIOTING TO ANY EXTENT. IF YOU ARE ARRESTED AS A RESULT OF THESE, YOU WILL NOT BE REPRESENTED BY WEARETHELION NOR WILL YOUR ACTIONS BE CONDONED. WE ARE A PEACEFUL ORGANIZATION.