Your Legal Rights if You’re Pulled Over
17th October 2022
Being pulled over is obviously a frightening situation for anyone. But you should know that there are laws that protect your legal rights when you are pulled over by a law enforcement officer. You may be worried about the possibility of being arrested, while the officer won’t be completely sure whether or not you’re a threat. But while you should always be as courteous and respectful as possible, it will also be just as important to remember you have rights.
If you’ve been pulled over and felt those rights were abused, or you were eventually arrested, a criminal defense attorney with Sand Law PLLC will be ready to help. We have a deep understanding of the law, and we will use that knowledge to your benefit. We’ll tell you what to expect through every step of the process, and we do all we can to have any charges that might have been filed against you either reduced substantially or dropped altogether.
Don’t hesitate to get in touch with one of our attorneys as soon as you can. Give us a call at 701-609-1510 for a free consultation, or contact us online.
Basic Legal Rights
Whether you’re being pulled over due to a DUI, because you’re suspected of committing some sort of federal offense, or anything else, it will always be critically important that you know your rights, including the following.
The Right to Remain Silent
You do have the right to remain silent, other than answering if the officer asks you to identify yourself. If you don’t answer that question, you could go to jail under North Dakota’s “stop and identify” statute.
But if you’re asked any other type of question, you don’t have to say a thing – it doesn’t matter what that question may be. You’re under no obligation to say where you were driving from, where you were driving to, where you live, or anything else. Just tell the officer you choose to remain silent.
This could be a problem in some situations, however. The officer may be angry at you – whether that reason is justified or unjustified – and refusing to answer their questions could possibly cause the tension to escalate, possibly dangerously. Follow your instincts and use your best judgment. If you’re asked questions, and if you feel threatened, it could be in your best interests to answer. Just make sure you know the name and badge number of the officer, and tell your attorney what happened. This could actually be to your benefit should you be arrested.
The Passenger May Ask to Leave
As long as your passenger isn’t under suspicion for a crime, they can ask if they can leave. If the officer gives them permission to do so, they should leave silently.
The Right to be Free From a Warrantless Search and Seizure
No law enforcement officer has the right to search your car or your belongings without your permission or a search warrant. They can pat you down if they have reason to believe you have a weapon on your person, but that’s it. Just because you tell an officer they can’t search your car, that doesn’t mean they won’t. If they do, however, that could greatly help your case if you’re eventually charged with a crime. The prosecutor may not be able to use that evidence because it was illegally obtained.
The Right to Record
If you feel that your rights are being violated, or you’ve been arrested unlawfully, you have the right to record what’s happening. You can use your phone to do so, as long as you remain a safe distance from whatever the officers are doing.
The police officer can’t legally demand that you hand over your phone – and they can never delete any videos or pictures you’ve taken under any circumstances. But this is another instance where it might be better for you to surrender your phone, or at least stop recording, if you think there’s a chance the officer could be a threat to your safety. If you are asked to do so, that’s yet another piece of evidence that could eventually help your case.
The Right to Remain in Your Vehicle
Yes, you do have the right to stay in your car – even if a police officer asks you to get out. But again, it might be in your best interests to do just that. The last thing you’ll want to do is to escalate the situation, even if you mean no harm. Again, use your best judgment, and try to get a sense of whether or not you view the officer as a potential threat. If you do, and they ask you to get out of the car, go ahead and do so. You can always use that violation of your rights against the officer at a later time if need be.
What to do if You’re Arrested?
If you’re arrested, however, then things change quite a bit regarding your rights. The officer can search you and your vehicle (even without a warrant). They can even take possession of your car.
But always remember that you still have the right to remain silent. You can request to speak with an attorney, and to arrange bail or bond if necessary. You don’t have to say anything else – and you definitely don’t have to take a lie detector test, even if the officer tries to convince you things will go better for you if you do.
Know Your Rights and Exercise Common Sense
Not every officer is going to care about your rights as a United States citizen. If you happen to be pulled over by one of them, use some common sense. Turn off the road at the first opportunity – making sure it’s completely safe to do so, of course. Keep your hands where the officer can see them at all times. We can’t overstate the importance of doing just that. Stay calm and don’t offer any resistance, and don’t lie.
Contact Sand Law if You’ve Been Arrested After Being Pulled Over
Whether you’re facing a charge of a property crime, a financial crime, or anything else, Sand Law PLLC attorneys will be here for you. Call 701-609-1510 immediately so that we can get to work making sure your rights are completely protected at all times. You can also contact us online.