You are walking down the street in Fort Myers when a police vehicle pulls up. Two officers step out of the vehicle and ask if they can ask you some questions about your recent activities. What do you do?
Tips for dealing with a police stop
Remember, you have rights, including when the police have detained you on the street for questioning. Here is some advice for handling this situation provided by the NAACP.
- Stay calm. It’s natural to feel nervous or afraid when the police are confronting you, but do your best to keep in control of your emotions.
- You have a right not to answer questions from the police even before you are arrested.
- You also do not have to consent to a search of your property, except for a pat-down of your body over your clothing, if the police have a reasonable suspicion you are carrying a dangerous weapon. Tell the police you do not consent to more than a pat-down search, but do not resist if the officers go further.
- Take mental notes about everything you can — the officers’ names, badge numbers, their vehicle number and so on. Write down everything you remember. If the officers violated your rights, the more details you retain, the stronger your case could be.
- Ask if you are free to go. If the police say so, leave immediately. Remain calm. Do not run.
Hopefully, the police will let you go without arresting you. But you may have little control over whether they arrest you or not. If they do, you should not answer any questions. Make it clear that you want to speak to your defense attorney first. Your lawyer can be present during an interrogation and court appearances. They may be able to get you out of jail sooner, so your arrest has a minimal impact on your life while you wait for a resolution. Finally, if the police violated your rights at any point, your lawyer can challenge that misconduct and fight to get evidence tossed out of court.