Know Your Rights: Protect Yourself from The Police

We The People: know your rights

We The People: know your rights

Do you know your rights?  When Government turns its awesome power on you, what should you do?:

1. Panic.
2. Try to talk your way out of it.
3. Show submissive behavior, like a non-alpha dog would.
4. Confess early and often – even to things you know nothing about, to please them.
5. None of the Above.

Correct – none of the above. Panic, submission and wishful thinking – while all too common, are not the way to protect yourself.

Well then, what should you do?

Do Not Trust Them. Trust Yourself

Know your rights.  And assert your rights.  You can and must do this.  But don’t make the common mistakes.

Do not lie. Do not tell the truth. Say nothing. Consult a criminal defense lawyer before making any statements to police. That is the general rule, with few exceptions. When in doubt, remain silent. If you hear a Miranda Warning, the alarm bells should be going off – be quiet!

Why? Police are generally good people. Like the rest of us, they too have a tough job, pressures. They are human – not perfect. Police have a point of view, a bias.  And, like all of us, they are subject to the “self-fulfilling prophecy” phenomenon.  Have you ever noticed that people tend to side with whoever complains to them first? Think police officers are immune to that? Suffice it to say that there are many reasons and causes for police misinterpreting other people; coercing unreliable statements, or both.

You can always make a statement later, if that makes sense, after consulting with your criminal law attorney. Police try to create a sense of urgency.  But their efforts to create a crisis, to invite making a statement are self-serving.  They don’t want you to “lawyer up.”

Avoid Consenting to a Search

When you know your rights, you don’t consent to a search.

They train police to get “consent” to search where possible. Consent is an exception to the judicial search warrant requirement of the United States Constitution. If they get valid, voluntary consent, a judge will likely rule the search legal. But why would a sane person give real, voluntary, consent to a police search? Nothing better to do? Almost every so-called consent search involves a degree of coercion by police – more or less.

Giving in to police coercion to “consent” to a search is a bad idea.  Don’t think  that a lawyer may be able to fix it later.  There is no guarantee of that! Refuse to consent to any search by police – of your person, belongings, vehicle, or living or work-space.

A majority of police contacts happen as the result of traffic stops. It is generally better for the defense, to endure delay, detention, even arrest – rather than consent to a search. Some may think “why not consent.  They say or look like they’ll search anyway.”

That is a bad idea.  And what they want you to think.   Because your “consent” would likely prevent a judge suppressing evidence from an illegal search.

If police can search lawfully with a warrant, they do not need consent.   With a search warrant, you should not physically or verbally interfere.  But you do not need to speak.

Good legal hygiene

You should know your rights.  Should?  Know them better!  It’s a lifelong process.  Learn as much as you can about the law.   That way you can better protect yourself and your loved ones, legally.

Under 21?  Know your rights under Minnesota’s underage drinking laws.  Drive car?  Learn tips on avoiding traffic stops.  You have a wealth of legal information here at your disposal.

Gallagher-Defense-logoAnd remember, if police contacted you, about a possible crime, know your rights.  And consult a criminal defense lawyer quickly, to seek investigation representation or pre-charge counsel. Your lawyer can help you take steps to protect yourself from the injustice and awesome power of the government.

By: Thomas C Gallagher, a Minneapolis Criminal Lawyer

One response to “Know Your Rights: Protect Yourself from The Police

  1. Thanks for another great post, Tom. A great service!

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