Dealing with the Police

Opinions in blog posts are the sole opinions of the author and do not reflect the views or opinions of 1.800.NoCuffs and The Kavinoky Law Firm.

policePolice interaction can be a daunting things to figure out. In the moment, when you’re under suspicion, it can be very challenging knowing what to say. Read along for the guidebook on how to behave if you’re under arrest.

Know Your Rights

As Americans, we rely on the police to keep us safe and protect our freedoms. Yet, when you swap roles, and your freedom is at stake, do you know your rights under the law? As a citizen of a free country, it’s important to know and understand your rights so you know how to protect yourself from the government if the need ever arises.


Recording the Police

Though the police often state that tape recording them is illegal it is, in fact, protected by the First Amendment. The police may not like being recorded, but you have the right to record what the government does in public, and especially on your own private property. Since police officers are technically government employees, as long as you are not belligerent or interfering with their work, tape recording the police is perfectly legal. If they become angry and order you to stop, politely inform them that you have a right to do so.

With that being said, it is illegal to secretly record conversations in the state of California. Although all-parties must consent to being recorded in the state of California, this does not apply to recording on-duty police officers. Ultimately, as long as you are standing a safe distance from the police, are not acting belligerent, and are not interfering with their work, recording an on-duty police officer is acceptable and legal under California state law.

Right to Remain Silent

Under the Fifth Amendment, we have the right not to self-incriminate. As a result, you have the right to remain silent and don’t have to speak with a police officer just because of his title.

If an officer asks you a question you’re not comfortable answering, ask about your situation and status. Find out whether you’re being detained or if you are free to go. If you’re being detained, practice your right to remain silent. Nothing you can do or say will get you out of your arrest. In fact, something you may accidentally let slip could put you in jail for a crime you could have avoided by refusing to speak.

Don’t Consent to Any Searches

If an officer makes request to search your vehicle or home, simply say you do not consent to a search.

If they threaten you with a warrant, state you won’t consent to a search without one. In most cases, the police will release you instead of going through the hassle of obtaining a search warrant. This is important because the police must abide by your refusal. So, if the police search your vehicle or home, your refusal to consent to the search may throw out the charges in court.

Some officers may threaten a K9 unit. However, the Supreme Court found that a dog’s lead is no longer grounds for probable cause  without a warrant.

In regard to searches, the police can legally do a “pat down” of your body. They do this to check for weapons, but they aren’t allowed to go inside your pockets.

Although most have the right to refuse consent to a search, this does not apply to those on probation or parole. Those on probation and parole may not legally refuse a search.

Arrest Rights

If a traffic stop leads to an arrest, you still have rights.

  1. First of all, you have the right to make a local phone call, although not necessarily at the scene of the arrest. Note, the police cannot listen to the call if you decide to contact a lawyer.
  2. Additionally, you have the right to continue to remain silent. Don’t give any explanations or excuses for your behavior or the events that led to the arrest, and don’t say anything, sign anything, or make any decisions without first consulting a lawyer.
  3. You have the right to a public defender at no cost to you, If you cannot afford a lawyer.

Build Your Defense

If you feel your rights have been violated, remember that police misconduct is not challenged on the street.

Do not physically resist officers or threaten to file a complaint. This will do absolutely nothing in your favor. Write down everything you remember about the incident, including the officer’s badge and patrol car numbers. If there were witnesses present, get their contact information. If an injury occurred, document the injuries through photographs. Finally, file a written complaint with the internal affairs division of the agency where the police officer works. In many cases, anonymous complaints are allowed.

Hire the Best

The Kavinoky Law firm hires the best criminal defense attorneys in California. Our excellent and experienced attorneys work hard to fight for their clients’ rights. If you find yourself on the wrong side of the law, call 1.800.No.Cuffs for a free consultation. Hire a criminal defense lawyer in Los Angeles and get working on maintaining your freedom.

Brianna Wilkins
Brianna Wilkins