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How To Handle Police Encounters


Encountering the police is one of the scariest experiences in life. Generally, encounters with the police fall under three categories. First, you can encounter the police in a public place. Second, you can encounter the police in a private area, like your home. Finally, people encounter police officers while in their vehicles. This article shares some crucial information about how to handle police encounters.

Handling a Public Place Police Encounter

Often, when in public, you will avoid interacting with law enforcement officers. And if you do encounter and interact with the police while in public, many times, the encounter will end fast. This is especially true if the encounter is consensual. For example, an officer might say hello to you, or you may say hello to them. You and a police officer may nod at each other or even have a friendly conversation. In such cases, there is usually nothing to worry about. However, you need to keep in mind that law enforcement officers are trained to look for signs of criminal activity, even when having what appears to be a friendly conversation.

Other times, an officer might approach you with the belief that you have committed an offense. They might try to ask you questions. In such a case, you should say as little as possible and ensure you ask the police if you are free to leave. If you are not allowed to leave, invoke your right to remain silent and ask to speak to an attorney. Stay calm and avoid arguing with the police. Arguing will only worsen the situation.

Handling a Police Encounter in a Private Place Such as Your Home

You have the most protection when in a private place like your home. When the police knock at your door, remain calm and be quiet. The police might break down the door if they hear something suspicious, such as running footsteps. Ask the police to identify themselves. After the police identify themselves, you can step outside to talk to them. It is advisable that you don’t allow the police into your home. Once out, listen to the police and say as little as possible. Ask the officers if you can go back to your house. If they say you can’t go back inside, invoke your right to remain silent and ask to speak to an attorney.

It is important to note that if the police have a valid search warrant, you are required to let them into your house. However, first, ensure the address on the warrant is correct and the warrant has a judge’s signature.

Handling a Police Encounter in a Vehicle

When the police pull you over, stay calm and stop in a safe place. Remain in your car unless asked to step outside and keep your hands in plain sight. Upon request, share your name and show your license, registration, and proof of insurance. However, DO NOT consent to any searches of your car. If the police proceed to search your vehicle without your consent, it may be considered a violation of your Fourth Amendment rights. Further, you don’t have to answer any police questions. If the police start questioning you, invoke your right to remain silent and ask to speak to a lawyer.

Contact Us for Legal Help

If you need the help of a qualified criminal defense attorney, contact our NYC criminal attorney, Mark I. Cohen, at 917-414-8585.

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