Getting pulled over or halted by an officer can be an intimidating and scary experience, where you should watch out for your best interest at all times. If you are stopped by police or arrested and detained, consider the following:
- Remember that you have the right to stay silent. You do not have to answer inquiries from the officer about where you are traveling from, where you are going, where you live, or what you are doing. If you utilize your right to remain silent, say this aloud to the officer. Keep in mind that you may have to provide your name, and the officer may arrest you for not doing so.
- You do not have to allow a search of you and your belongings. An officer may pat down your clothes if they think you have a weapon, drugs, or other unlawful items. Refusing consent may not halt the officer from carrying out the search, but objecting before or during can help keep your rights protected at legal proceedings later on if the situation worsens.
- Remember to remain calm and collected. Stay calm, don’t run, don’t resist, and don’t obstruct the officer. Do not try to talk your way out of the arrest, as it usually doesn’t work and only makes matters worse. Do not give false documents and do not lie. Keep your hands where the officer can see them.
- Ask for a lawyer immediately. If you are arrested or detained, say you want to stay silent until a lawyer is present. Request a lawyer without hesitation, do not sign any documents, or make choices without first consulting a lawyer. After an arrest, you have the right to make a phone call and know that the officer may be listening, but they can’t tune in if you are calling a lawyer. This is why a lawyer should be your first phone call.
Laws vary between states. If it is concluded that your rights have been violated, experts recommend hiring a civil litigation lawyer who is licenced in the state in which the incident occurred. For example, if you were in Virginia, an Alexandria, VA civil litigation lawyer such as one from Mughal Law Firm, may be hired to assist with the legal procedure. A local lawyer will be able to answer questions about whether divorce or annulment is a better option for you, taking into account local Virginia state laws.