If you have been stopped and questioned by police and are unsure why this has happened it can be an intimidating and even frightening experience. You could easily make matters worse unless you know how best to deal with such an encounter. If you are arrested, you should know how to behave so that your interests are safeguarded and you do not incriminate yourself by a rash statement or behavior.
The importance of an attorney
If confronted by police or arrested, you do not have to answer any questions except provide identification. If you have been driving and are inside your car, you should provide your driving license, proof of registration and insurance. You have the right to remain silent if questioned. You also have the right to ask to speak to your attorney if you have one and have your attorney present when answering questions. If you do not have an attorney of your own, or cannot afford one, you have the right to have a public defender, i.e. an attorney provided by the state to represent you. These rights are enshrined in the U.S. constitution and are usually referred to as your ‘Miranda Rights.’ It is the duty of any arresting police officer to remind you of your rights under the law. In fact, if they do not do so, this could be used as evidence by your attorney that the arrest was not lawful.
What you should not do if confronted by the police or arrested
Your behavior when approached by, or confronted by, police is important. At all times you should co-operate with them and not resist arrest if this is what is happening. You should not attempt to flee as this could be regarded as an additional offense. You should not obstruct the police in carrying out their activities if other people are involved or present.
You should be as respectful as possible and try and remain calm, bearing in mind what has already been said about your right to remain silent above.
If you have been confronted by the police and the experience has left you stressed or outraged it is not sensible to express your outrage through social media or publically, unless you have received legal advice from your attorney.
What you should do if confronted by the police
Apart from the rights mentioned above, i.e. to remain silent when questioned by police, you do not have to remain where you are being questioned unless you are actually being arrested. You have the right to politely ask if you are being arrested and if not, you are allowed to ask whether you can leave and then do so calmly and quietly.
You do not have to allow police to search your person, your car or your home unless the police have a search warrant. There are some circumstances where even this right may be legally circumvented by police. That means that if the police think that a felony is being carried out at the time they confront you, then they may have the right to search you, your car or your home without a warrant to do so.
It is important to try and be calm enough to remember the circumstances of any encounter with the police. Police officers may themselves say things or act in a way that can be used against them if there is a charge laid against you later on. In some cases, prosecutors have lost a case because of improper actions have been carried out by investigating or arresting police officers.
With the current ‘tough on crime’ stance taken by the criminal justice system in Alaska you may need a highly experienced criminal defense attorney to help defend you if you have been charged with any serious criminal offense. Contact the Law Office of Dattan Scott Dattan in Anchorage at 907-276-8008.