Written by attorney V. Iyer

Stopped by police? Do's & Don'ts of Police Contact

I too was just like you. I thought like most people that all police officers are decent and good people and I can convince them I did not do anything wrong and not to issue me a ticket or arrest me. I was wrong; and after I became a lawyer, a prosecutor and a criminal defense lawyer I know and realize how wrong I was. I just do not want you to be living in that "make belief and mistaken world". You are driving your merry way and suddenly you see from the corner of your eye something strange. OOPS!!! What's that suddenly following me. You check your rear view mirror and to your dismay and chagrin you see a police car with lights flashing and sirens blaring, I think I am in a dream and try to shake myself awake. I confirm it is a darn cop car. I stop at the nearest available spot. I am irritated or upset or even just mad that this darn cop is following me instead of doing something real to stop the real criminals. This cop is just wasting a lot on public tax dollars and time. Following me - a law abiding and good citizen - instead of chasing down and arresting the "real" criminals. Thoughts are racing through my mind and head. Hey, I can talk my way out of this way. This cop must be a dumb guy or gal. He or she is just a stupid public employee. After all, only people who aren't any good or lack any intelligence will work for the government. I have a real job and I am smart. I am a real good talker. People all the time say how convincing and believable I am or how honest or truthful I sound. This darn cop is just going to believe me and I will be out of his or her clutches. I can do it. I will talk my way out and get this cop to be eating out of my hand. I will turn him or her into a sweet little puppy licking my hand. I will charm him or her. I will seduce him with my girlish or youthful sexiness or charm. Right. No dead wrong. These are tricks the cops are very familiar with and have been trained to just blow you away. Do not try it. you just cannot out fox a fox (police). I roll down my window. What do I do. This is what you do. Keep yourmouth shut. Do not speak or shake your head to indicate acknowledgment of anything the cop is going to say when he approaches the driver's side window. Yes, roll down your window (driver's side) 1.0 Have just the following documents ready in your hand: a. Your driver's license b. Registration of the vehicle you are driving c. Auto Insurance covering you and he car you are driving You do not have to provide him with anything else. You are not required to provide the officer with your social security number. 2.0 DO NOT SAY ANYTHING. JUST HEAR WHAT THE OFFICER IS SAYING AND KEEP QUIET. 3.0 Do not try and be a Smart Alec. 4.0 Do not try to respond to what the officer is saying except to comply with his orders (Exception: you have the right to keep quiet and not talk - use that right). 5.0 Be respectful (but that does not mean you talk - you have the right to keep quiet and not talk - use that right). 6.0 Be Cooperative (but that does not mean you talk - you have the right to keep quiet and not talk - use that right). 7.0 If Officer tries too get you to talk to him; politely tell him, specifically this and nothing else: Officer I have the right to keep quiet and do not want to talk to you. It is my right and I am using that right). 8.0 Officers are a tricky lot and may say something like - you do not have that right, you can talk to me, you are not under arrest, Miranda does not apply or it will help you if you talk to me, or I just want to know what happened here and it will help me decide if I am going to give you a ticket or I do not think I am likely to arrest you if you talk to me. What ever the police may say it is safe to repeat the following: Officer I have the right to keep quiet and do not want to talk to you. It is my right and I am using that right). Even if you begin to sound like an old beat up recording it is better to be safe than sorry. Remember, it is very very rare that a police officer is going to say that you said something when you merely exercised your right not to talk to him. 9.0 If the Officer is going to arrest you let him or her do so; as he or se must have probable cause to arrest you and a Judge will review to see if the police officer had probable cause to arrest you. 10.0 Remember a police officer is a well trained person in getting information out of people and play and prey on "human weaknesses and psychology". A police officer is like a smart and cunning fox and you are just like a chicken in a "protected fence". Your"protected fence" is your"constitutional rights". Do not let the police officer trick or beguile or fool you into believing him or her (the fox) and trying to get you (the chicken) to leave the protected fence. If you do you will most likely than not suffer the peril and provide the police officer with just the evidence he or she needs to either make his or her case much stronger or to build a case against you. Remember, it is very hard and expensive to undo any damage (your speaking) done after the fact. Most people are not that rich to have experts in coerced statements or false confessions. (I will get to coerced statement and false confessions in a separate blog. So be on the look out). Generally, if you are charged, the prosecutor is not going to give you a real good plea bargain if the police officer has already built a good and strong case against you. The prosecutor always looks at how strong the case is when he or she makes a plea offer. The weaker the case the better are the plea bargains and just exponentially increases the possibility of case dismissals. (I was a prosecutor and know how prosecutors are trained and think for the most part). Remember, if you are not the driver of the stopped car but a passenger then different rules may apply (I will get to rules for passengers in a stopped car in a separate blog. So be on the look out). ** See you soon. I hope the information is useful. Remember, these are the general and safe rules which will cover most if not all situations. Also, no real harm will come about by keeping quiet with police contact. (the worst thing that can come to you is you will be arrested but could most likely be bailed out. If the Officer is going to arrest you he or she will do so even if you say something but your chances of not being arrested will only increase if and when to keep quiet. The Officer must have probable cause to arrest you. If there is no probable cause the Officer cannot lawfully arrest or charge you with a crime, You can latter hire a criminal defense lawyer who can sort it out either with the police or with the prosecutor. Remember be like a good doctor and follow the Hippocratic oath of "Do no harm first". In your contact with police remember that "Do no harm first to your case or situation". Finally, remember, to always say "I WANT TO TALK TO MY ATTORNEY FIRST BEFORE I SAY ANYTHING TO YOU". Caveat: This is not to be construed as legal advise and no attorney-client relationship is established. This is just for informational and educational purposes only.**

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