Being around police officers makes many people nervous. You be stopped by the police almost anywhere outside of your home, including in your vehicle, on the streets or at a public event.
Interacting with police officers in Texas can be particularly scary when you do not know the reason that they stopped you and you do not believe you have done anything wrong. If you know the reason, you might be unsure of what you should or should not say or do.
You have many rights when it comes to interactions with police officers. One of these is your right to remain silent.
The police officers will likely ask your name and for any identification. If you are stopped while in your vehicle, they may also ask for your driver’s license and registration. Provide this information and documentation, but do not say anything else.
This is probably difficult. You might assume that you must answer questions since they are police officers, but this is not true. You could also believe that if you talk with them, be friendly and give your side of the story, they will let you go.
In fact, the opposite is often true. Police officers sometimes anticipate that you will do this, and they will let you speak freely. However, you may unintentionally say something incriminating, especially if your nerves get the best of you, such as at a DWI stop after you have had a few drinks.
How to ask for an attorney
When you do not answer questions, the police officers should not keep asking you the same questions. If they do, assert your right to an attorney. Your request for an attorney should be stated clearly. A vague statement, such as “maybe I need an attorney” is not necessarily clear enough to be considered a legitimate request.
The police officers must eventually let you go or arrest you. Once they see you are not answering their questions, you can ask them if you are free to go. Unless they are going to arrest you, they must let you go at that point.
Do not flee or resist
Be respectful and polite to the police officers. This is possible even if you are not answering questions. While you might believe that there was no lawful basis for the stop, arguing or fighting with the police officers will make your situation much worse.
There may have been no basis for the stop or any subsequent arrest, but if you start fighting, you could face a criminal charge such as disorderly conduct. Additionally, never run away from the police officers or resist an arrest. Resisting arrest is a charge that could be added onto any other charges and increase your potential criminal penalties.
So, what should you do if your rights were violated? The time to address this is not at the stop or arrest itself.
What happens if I am arrested?
After your arrest, you will go through booking and arraignment. Your case will then proceed through the criminal justice system and go through stages such as investigation and discovery. This is the time to have a professional evaluate your situation and determine if any of your rights were violated. If so, you could have a defense to your criminal charge.