There are many occasions when you may be in a police officer's presence; pulled over while driving, stopped while walking along a street, or you may have been apprehended and are in custody. There are basic rules for talking with the police without a lawyer present. Let us discuss them in two categories:
1. A Simple Stop in a Public Place
If you are stopped by a police officer:
- Remain calm and polite, keep your hands in full view, and do not touch the officer.
- If you need to, take a deep breath and control both your emotions and body movements. Remember, the officer does not know much about you, so do not do or say anything to arouse fear, anger, or suspicion.
- The officer will hand over a business card and state why you have been stopped, in accordance with New York's Right to Know Act
- Anything you do say or do to an officer can be recorded and, subsequently, used against you.
- Comply with simple requests such as providing your driver's license, registration and proof of insurance if you are driving a vehicle.
- If you object to something, speak in a non-confrontational tone of voice. If the matter escalates, you do not want the officer to be able to report that your words and actions caused legitimate concern.
- Unless you are arrested, you do not have to comment on the incident for which you were stopped. The officer does not have to provide a Miranda Warning, but will record anything you say.
- In this instance, you have a right to request a delay before answering questions. It will give you an opportunity to contact an attorney for professional advice about what you should say when you go back to speak with the officer.
- You have a right to ask if you may leave, or if you are being detained.
- If you are being detained, say nothing more other than you would like to speak with an attorney before you do say anything else.
- If you are allowed to leave, take a few moments to write down everything you recollect about the meeting in case the police follow up later.
2. After an Arrest
The police officer will provide the Miranda Warning which includes your right to remain silent and your right to have an attorney. You will be asked if you understand what you have been told. At this point:
- Answer truthfully that you do or do not understand.
- You should provide your name and address, unless you have already given it.
- Say clearly and politely that you do wish to remain silent and to have a lawyer represent you.
- From then on, say nothing at all to anyone other than confirming your personal details to another officer if asked. Do not chat with anyone about anything until you meet with an attorney.
New York police officers have a difficult job and a big responsibility. You, as a member of the public, have rights. All being well, any interaction with an officer will end quickly and with you being free to go. If you are detained and you want legal representation, we are here to help. If you would like to discuss any legal matter, please feel free to click this link to contact us.