Know Your Rights*

What to do when confronted with the police?

Following these basic rules can help you protect your rights when dealing with the police.

Key Points

DO NOT talk to the police! When arrested say, "I choose to remain silent and I want to talk to my attorney."

DO NOT consent to a search of your person or property. If the police search you tell them “I do not consent to a search.”

DO document and report police misconduct.

If the Police Stop You...

• Stay calm and do not physically resist. 
• Keep your hands visible and free of ANY objects which could be confused for a weapon. 
• Remain silent. 
• DO ask "Am I free to go?" If told “yes”, then leave immediately – you are not being detained. 
• If you’re detained, DO show ID. If you don’t, you can be held for up to three days in order to identify you.

If the Police Try to Search You...

• Never consent to a search. 
• Say "I do not consent to a search" loudly enough so any witnesses can hear you.
• Don’t resist physically. Police may pat down your clothing if they have reasonable suspicion that you have weapons or drugs.
• Don’t open your bag or any closed items for the police.

If the Police Try to Enter Your Home...

• Never consent to a search. 
• IF you have opened the door, then step outside. Lock the door behind you. 
• Ask to see a warrant. Does it have your address on it? Is it signed by a Judge?
• Do not agree to letting them search areas not covered by the warrant. 

If the Police Stop Your Car...

• Stay calm. 
• Do not answer questions – silence is not a crime
• DO show your driver’s license, registration, and proof of insurance. 
• DO tell the officer, "I do not consent to a search" if asked.
• Don’t open your trunk or car door to allow the police access. They might argue later that you consented to the search by letting them in.
• DO sign any ticket they give you. 
• If you refuse to take a blood, urine or breath test when asked your license can be suspended. 

If the Police Arrest You...

• Do not answer any questions. 
• Do say "I choose to remain silent and I want to talk to my attorney." 
• Do not talk about your case to anyone except your attorney. 

If You are Mistreated by the Police

• Write down the details of the incident, badge numbers, and names of witnesses immediately. 
• Get a medical report immediately, as well as photographs documenting any injuries or property damaged.

* Disclaimer:

The legal information presented at this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice. Any results set forth here were dependent on the facts of that case and the results will differ from case to case. Please contact Reichel & Plesser for legal advice specific to your situation. This web site is not intended to solicit clients for representation in criminal proceedings outside of the State of California, except for those matters prosecuted in U.S. Federal Courts. Reichel & Plesser are licensed California attorneys. The information contained in this web site is general in nature. It is provided for informational, illustrative and advertisement purposes only. It is not legal advice. It should not be relied upon in making legal decisions or in place of a consultation with an experienced and knowledgeable attorney regarding a specific matter. Reading this site, sending us information, or receipt of information from us does not establish an attorney - client relationship. Our review of, and/or response to, your query does not mean that we are representing you or that we are your lawyers. Statements, testimonials and endorsements contained herein do not constitute a guarantee, warranty, or prediction regarding the ultimate result or outcome of your legal matter. Links from this web site to the web site of another entity does not state or imply the existence of a relationship between Reichel & Plesser and that entity. A written, signed retainer agreement is a prerequisite for Reichel & Plesser to represent you.