The subject of how to respond to a police officer, depending upon the situation at hand, is one that remains an uncertainty for many people. Whitney S. Boan, a criminal defense attorney based in Orlando, Florida, notes that many of her past clients have expressed doubt and confusion as to what they are supposed to say when questioned or detailed by an officer of the law – or whether or not they should say anything at all.
“Know Your Rights”
Not every encounter with a law enforcement officer is as simple as a routine traffic stop.
According to Boan, knowledge of one’s rights (http://www.boanlaw.com/miranda-rights-101/) when faced with arrest is crucial. She says that many people have an uncertain grasp of what their rights are during such an event, having picked it up primarily from television and film. “The average person can’t answer a variety of basic questions about their Miranda rights, such as ‘do they need to be recited verbatim’ or even ‘what are the Miranda rights, as defined by the Supreme Court of the United States?’”
“In order to benefit from them, you need to know and understand what they are, in advance of that moment when you truly need them.”
Search and seizure is another area in which people are often unclear about what their rights allow. Many people, says Boan, are surprised by what is required (http://www.boanlaw.com/illegal-searches-suppression-evidence-need-know/) in order to facilitate a legal search. “When suspicious items are in plain view, or a search is verbally consented to, there is no need for a search warrant. If you are placed under arrest, an officer can search you for weapons. If they have reason to believe that there is an emergency in progress or that somebody’s life is in danger, they can search your home or vehicle without a warrant. Without any one of these four considerations in play, however, a search warrant is necessary.”
Boan says that the popular perception of looking guilty through lack of cooperation is largely false. “You should never be afraid to say no to a search if you’ve done nothing wrong,” she says, adding that it’s best “to keep certain items out of sight in your home or vehicle. Things like rolling papers, loose ziplock bags, and other items that most likely have perfectly legitimate uses being in plain sight have been claimed in the past as justification for a search.”
Perception of a Threat, Regardless of Guilt
“There is an unfortunate perception that the police will deliberately twist a person’s words to use against them, regardless of the situation,” Boan explains. “Some people worry that they should have an attorney present, regardless of guilt. Then, they worry that this in itself will make them look guilty.”
“People can freeze up, becoming silent out of fear that whatever they say will indeed be used against them when, in fact, one of the most critical elements of dealing with a police officer is simply to be calm, be polite, and to express your desire to leave if you are not in fact being detained.”
Meanwhile, Boan says, many of the most useful tips and appropriate responses for an encounter with law enforcement are fairly obvious to an objective observer. “They’re common sense items, but when you’re in that moment, nerves can put common sense out the window.”
Some of the points to be addressed by Boan’s firm are as follows:
• A police request is not an order. “Always clarify whether you are being asked to do something, or are being ordered to do something.”
• Record every encounter. “Be aware of whether or not your state’s laws allow for the video or audio recording of police activity, but you can always write down the details of your encounter.”
• Keep hands visible. “Do not make sudden or threatening movements, and never let your hands drift away from where the officer can see them.”
For Additional Information
Interested persons may visit the website of Whitney S. Boan, Criminal Defense Attorney for the full feature, and for more information about what to do to protect one’s rights in the event of an encounter with police or other law enforcement personnel.
Contact Person: Whitney S. Boan, P.A.
Phone: (407) 413-9569
Address:390 N Orange Ave #2300
Country: United States