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Should you give police a statement or allow a search?

You should not give police a statement when you are arrested.

If police suspect you of committing a crime, you should give them identifying information about yourself such as your name and address, then call your lawyer. Any statement you give, oral or written, can be used against you in a trial.

Things to remember during an arrest

The first rule is to stay cool and calm. Don’t lose your temper. Police will often put you in handcuffs and in a police cruiser for their own protection. Don’t fight them or resist arrest.

Stay silent. Tell police your name and address, then ask to speak to your lawyer. Any statement you give, even if it is to refute a false claim, can be used against you during a trial.

If you are stopped in your car:

  • Stay cool and calm
  • Keep your hands on the steering wheel where the officer can see them
  • Turn on your hazard flashers
  • Pull over slowly into a well-lit spot
  • If you are pulled over at night, turn on your dome light
  • Stay in your car unless the officer tells you otherwise
  • Give the officer your license, registration and proof of insurance
  • Reach for your license, registration and insurance only after the officer tells you to do so
  • You are not required to say anything to the officer or answer any questions without your lawyer. You can ask why you were stopped, but leave it at that. Anything you say can be used as an admission of guilt
  • If the officer suspects you are intoxicated, you may be asked to take a blood alcohol content test. You can refuse to take it, although your license will immediately be revoked for at least one year, you will face a $500 fine and the officer can still testify with other evidence such as the smell of alcohol or erratic driving

Consenting to a search

You do not have to consent to a search of your property. If officers have a search warrant, look at the name on the warrant to see if it includes you. If it has an address, make sure police are at the correct address.

Police can search your property without your consent if there is an immediate need (a disaster or someone crying for help), or if they are in hot pursuit of another suspect.

An officer might decide to search without your consent. You might as well not give the officer your consent and let your lawyer discuss the issue with a judge.

If you do not consent to a search but the police demand to come in, ask to see their badges and write the names and badge numbers down. Make sure they understand you do not consent to the search.

Most importantly, do not physically resist even if you believe you are being mistreated. Call a lawyer to protect your civil rights.

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