It is important for every American to understand their rights and how they apply to what police can and cannot do. Knowing your rights allows you to exercise them and identify when a police offer is not within their rights to take certain actions. 

This article details your rights while interacting with a police officer as well as limitations to what a police officer may do. 

Explaining your rights 

According to a paper published by the New York Civil Liberties Union, you have several rights when talking to a police officer. The most well known is probably the right to remain silent. You may simply tell an officer that you wish to remain silent to exercise this right. 

You also have the right to tell an officer that they cannot search you, your vehicle or your home without the appropriate warrant. The police cannot arrest you simply for denying a search. 

If the police arrest you for some reason, you have the right to speak to a lawyer before you speak to the police. If you cannot afford a lawyer, you have the right to free counsel. 

What an officer cannot do  

Police cannot detain you unless they have a reasonable suspicion that you may commit a crime. If police officers are investigating criminal activity, however, they must identify themselves. If they do not identify themselves, police are not legally following protocol. 

A police officer may not search your belongings without your consent unless they have a reason to believe not doing so would result in a crime or harm to someone.