Dealing with law enforcement officers is going to happen to you at some point or another, even if you haven’t broken any laws, and it’s important to know your rights and how you should behave if you find yourself in a questionable situation.
Wehave prepared the answers for the most common “What if…” and “Can they…” situations and you will definitely want to know the proper course of action.
1. What to do if law enforcement officers stop me in the street?
You have the right to remain silent. It means you can refuse to answer their questions. You have to actually say it out loud to the police officer. But this doesn’t mean you can turn your back to them.
You must answer questions about your name and where you live. As soon as you give this information, ask, “Am I free to go?” If police officer says “Yes,” then you can leave.
If you are a tourist visiting another country, always carry a copy of your passport or any other ID card, a copy of your visa or tourist voucher, and your hotel’s business card.
Stay respectful at all times and remember that touching a police officer is always a bad idea, even in a friendly way or as part of a joke.
Being approached and asked questions by the police doesn’t mean you are a suspect or that you have commited a crime. They have the authority to come to you and ask questions. But if they don’t allow you to leave after you ask them to and/or you are being read and recited your rights, then they suspect you have committed a crime.
2. Do I have to answer questions asked by law enforcement officers?
No, You have the right to remain silent. You will never be punished for not answering a question. In fact, before you agree to answer any questions, first consult a lawer. Just say “I want to talk to my layer”. Remember, only a judge can force you to answer questions in court.
3. What to do if I’m being asked to leave a public place?
If you are being asked to leave a public place by police officers, they suspect you:
May be the reason for a conflict, disrupting peace
Are very drunk or intoxicated and can be dangerous to people around you
Can cause injury or damage to someone’s property
Have mental problems
It doesn’t have to be in a written form.
There are some exceptions: police cannot order you to move if you are protesting againt some political issues or taking part in an employment strike.
4. What if law enforcement officers stop me in my car?
Stay inside the car, stay calm, and be polite.
Keep your hands on the wheel, so the police can see them at all times.
Don’t fully open your window.
Show your documents, such as drivers license, registration, and vehicle’s insurance if the police officer requests to see them.
Step outside if the officers asks.
Answer the questions which refer ONLY to the stop of your vehicle.
Refuse to answer questions about all other subjects. Say it outloud.
5. Why do police touch your car when they pull you over?
Police officers want to leave their fingerprints on it. The fingerprints left on the car can prove that the officer has actually approached the vehicle and had an encounter with a certain driver. In case of emergency, the driver could be found due to the fingerprints left on his car.
The officers try to get on drivers’ nerves before actually coming to their window.
Nowadays most police cars have dash cams on board and police officers don’t need to leave their fingerprints as a proof of encounter.
6. What if I am mistreated by law enforcement officers?
Write down the officer’s badge number, their name, or any other identifying information. Police officer is obliged to answer these questions.
Try to find witnesses and get their names and phone numbers.
If you are injured, get medical attention, take photos of the injuries, and copy all the documents from the doctor.
Call a lawyer. You should also file a complaint against the law enforcement officer responsible for the mistreatment.
7. What to do if I am asked for a bribe?
Do not agree to paying a bribe.
Accept the fine if there is a real reason for it.
Most police officers who encourage bribes will make sure that you can’t see their badge number or their name. If you can see this identifying information, write it down.
Pay attention to any visible license plates or the location of a roadblock — this information can help to identify the officer later.
Don’t argue, don’t make threats, or challenge the officer.
Stay polite and respectful at all times.
Move on and report the incident later.