Picture this – you’re driving home after a long day, the hum of the engine and your favorite tunes providing a sense of comfort. Suddenly, those flashing lights appear in your rearview mirror. Panic sets in. It’s a scenario many of us fear and one that can be overwhelming. If you ever find yourself stopped by the police in Michigan, knowing your rights and understanding what to do can make all the difference.
Understanding the Stop
As those blue and red lights flicker, it’s natural to feel a mix of emotions – anxiety, confusion, and maybe even fear. Why did they pull you over? A regular traffic stop might lead to a friendly reminder, a ticket, or even a visit to the jail. No matter why you got pulled over or what you expect will happen, take a deep breath and remember: how you handle the next few minutes matters.
What Should You Do When Stopped by Police?
- Stay Calm: Keep your composure. Turn off your engine and turn on your interior lights if it’s dark.
- Hands on the Wheel: Place your hands on the steering wheel so they are visible, preferably at the 10 and 2 o’clock positions. This helps the officer feel at ease.
- Roll down your window, and be courteous and respectful: Being rude or aggressive at this point will not work in your favor. Take a breath and try not to jump to conclusions.
- Follow Instructions: If asked for identification, insurance, or registration, provide them. Remember to let them know before you reach for it, like saying, “It’s in the glove box, is it okay if I grab it?” This will help them feel at ease. Politely ask the reason for the stop if it’s not immediately clear.
- If you have a gun, inform the officer: Regardless of what the police officer initially says, reply with: “Before we begin, I need to let you know I have a concealed carry permit and a gun. What should I do?” Officers can request to hold the weapon until the traffic stop is finished.
- Remain Silent: If you feel you are being questioned unreasonably, or that the police are trying to coax or demand a certain response from you, you can choose not to respond. You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can be used against you. However, you must invoke this right. You can’t just sit there and say nothing; you need to use that right by letting the police know you’ve decided to stay silent and not respond to their questions.
- Request an Attorney: You have the right to an attorney. Use it. This is not an admission of guilt but a protection of your rights.
What Not to Do at the Traffic Stop
- Don’t Argue. Even if you believe the stop is unjust, arguing on the spot won’t help. If an officer tells you to do something you’re not comfortable with, you can politely ask if you’re being detained. You can also ask if you’re free to go.
- Don’t obstruct or interfere with the police. Avoid sudden movements.
- Don’t provide false information or present fake documents.
- Don’t get out of the car. Stay in your vehicle unless the police officer instructs you otherwise. Getting out right away might be seen as aggressive.
- Don’t consent to any searches. You don’t have to agree to a search of yourself or your belongings, but the police officer might proceed. Don’t resist; instead, remember this violation for discussion in court.
- Don’t resist arrest. Regardless of the circumstances, don’t resist. There could be a warrant for your arrest or you may be guilty of something you’re not aware of. Avoid resisting or fleeing. It could lead to serious consequences, even the loss of your life.
What to Do If You Are Arrested
Invoke your right to remain silent. Refrain from answering any questions. Request to speak with a lawyer right away, and reiterate this request to any officer attempting to engage with or question you. Never attempt to flee or resist. Maintain your silence until you can consult with a criminal defense attorney.
Know Your Legal Rights
- Fourth Amendment: Protection against unreasonable searches and seizures. You have the right to refuse a search without a warrant.
- Fifth Amendment: The right to remain silent and protection against self-incrimination.
- Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments: The right to legal counsel and a fair trial.
What If Your Rights Were Violated?
If you think your rights were violated during a traffic stop or any encounter with the police, do not do anything rash at the actual encounter. Document all the details you can recall, such as officers’ names, patrol car numbers, license plate numbers, time, location, and the officers’ agency. Check for any witnesses and gather their contact information. Inquire about any video footage they may have. Seek immediate medical attention if you’re injured, and take photos of your injuries. Submit a written complaint to the internal affairs division or civilian complaint board of the agency involved. Remember, you can make the complaint anonymously.
Let a Michigan Defense Attorney Protect Your Constitutional Rights
Whether you’re stopped by the police on the road or anywhere else, you have rights and we can help you fight for those rights. At Duplessis Law, we specialize in criminal defense, ensuring that your constitutional rights are protected every step of the way. Often, police will use forceful or unreasonable measures to prove what they believe to be true about you. We’re here to make sure you don’t become the victim of such tactics and that the real truth comes to light.
No one expects to be stopped by the police, but knowing your rights empowers you. Stay calm, be respectful, and remember, you have rights designed to protect you. If you ever find yourself facing legal challenges, don’t face them alone. Duplessis Law is here to be your advocate. Contact us today because your peace of mind matters.