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Knowing Your Rights

What Are My Rights During an Encounter with the Police?

When approached by the police, it is important to understand and know your rights.  First, it is important to stay calm and comply with the officer’s demand to stop.  Do not run, argue, or resist the police officer.  Always keep your hands where the officer can see them.

Next, ask the officer if you are being detained or if you are free to leave.  If the officer says you are not being detained, quietly walk away. If you are under arrest, you have a right to know why.

Right to Remain Silent

Always exercise your right to remain silent, even if you believe you have not committed a crime.  Politely tell the officer that you wish to exercise this right and will not be answering any questions or making any statement.  You cannot be punished for refusing to answer questions.

Do Not Consent to a Search

You do not have to consent to a search of your person, your home, or your vehicle.  You should always exercise this right.  If the officer obtains a search warrant, you no longer have the choice to consent or not consent.  An officer may “pat down” your clothing if they suspect you have a weapon.  However, never consent to any search beyond this initial pat down even if you believe you are not in possession of any contraband.

Contact an Attorney

If you are under arrest, you have the right to an attorney.  You should always exercise this right.  The St. Louis criminal defense lawyers at Henderson & Waterkotte, P.C. are available 24/7.  We can advise you of your rights and protect those rights.  The arrest phase of the case is often the most critical phase.  Contact us today to schedule a free consultation if you are being investigated or have been arrested.