What are my constitutional rights?

When in custody

  • You have the right to remain silent. Never talk to the police unless your lawyer is present
  • Make your defense in court. Avoid offering explanations, stories, or excuses to the police
  • Ask to see your attorney immediately
  • Do not think it will be “too late” if you wait for an attorney- you can always give a statement later

At home

  • You don’t have to let the police enter your home unless they have a warrant. A warrant is an order signed by a judge which gives officers the right to search the places listed in the warrant. Officers must give a copy of the warrant and list of anything they take
  • Only in emergency situations and if you have consented may the police enter and search your home without a warrant
  • If you are arrested during a search of your home, the police may search you and take evidence of a crime that is in plain view

Vehicle Stops

  • If the police ask to search your car, say no. If they search it anyway, make it clear that you do not agree with the search
  • Signing a ticket is not an admission of guilt
  • Do not consent to drug-sniffing dog searches
  • A passenger in the car may be ordered to step out of it but does not have to answer any questions or provide any information

Street Encounters

  • If you are stopped, you can refuse to answer questions
  • Ask the police officer if you are free to leave. If the police officer says “yes” then leave. If the police officer says no, then ask why you are under arrest
  • Police cannot lawfully require that you identify yourself or produce identification if they don’t reasonably suspect that you are involved in a crime
  • An officer may do a “pat down” search of your clothing is he suspects you have a weapon. Do not resist but make it clear that you do not agree to be searche