KEEP THIS CARD HANDY!
IF YOU HAVE A POLICE ENCOUNTER,
YOU CAN PROTECT YOURSELF.
1. What you say to the police is always
important. What you say can be used against
you, and it can give the police an excuse to
arrest you, especially if you bad-mouth a police
2. You don't have to answer a police officer's
questions, but you must show your driver's
license and registration when stopped in a car.
In other situations, you can't legally be arrested
for refusing to identify yourself to a police
3. You don't have to consent to any search of
yourself, your car or your house. If you DO
consent to a search, it can affect your rights later
in court. If the police say they have a search
warrant, ASK TO SEE IT.
4. Do not interfere with, or obstruct the police --
you can be arrested for it.
IF YOU ARE STOPPED FOR
1. It's not a crime to refuse to answer questions,
but refusing to answer can make the police
suspicious about you. You can't be arrested
merely for refusing to identify yourself on the
2. Police may "pat-down" your clothing if they
suspect a concealed weapon. Don't physically
resist, but make it clear that you don't consent to
any further search.
3. Ask if you are under arrest. If you are, you
have a right to know why.
4. Don't bad-mouth the police officer or run
away, even if you believe what is happening is
unreasonable. That could lead to your arrest.
IF YOU'RE STOPPED IN YOUR CAR
1. Upon request, show them your driver's license,
registration, and proof of insurance. In certain
cases, your car can be searched without a
warrant as long as the police have probable
cause. To protect yourself later, you should make
it clear that you do not consent to a search. It is
not lawful for police to arrest you simply for
refusing to consent to a search.
2. If you're given a ticket, you should sign it;
otherwise you can be arrested. You can always
fight the case in court later.
3. If you're suspected of drunk driving (DWI) and
refuse to take a blood, urine or breath test, your
driver's license may be suspended.
IF YOU'RE ARRESTED OR TAKEN TO A
1. You have the right to remain silent and to talk
to a lawyer before you talk to the police. Tell the
police nothing except your name and address.
Don't give any explanations, excuses or stories.
You can make your defense later, in court, based
on what you and your lawyer decide is best.
2. Ask to see a lawyer immediately. If you can't
pay for a lawyer, you have a right to a free one,
and should ask the police how the lawyer can be
contacted. Don't say anything without a
3. Within a reasonable time after your arrest, or
booking, you have the right to make a local
phone call: to a lawyer, bail bondsman, a
relative or any other person. The police may not
listen to the call to the lawyer.
4. Sometimes you can be released without bail,
or have bail lowered. Have your lawyer ask the
judge about this possibility. You must be taken
before the judge on the next court day after
5. Do not make any decisions in your case until
you have talked with a lawyer.
IN YOUR HOME
1. If the police knock and ask to enter your
home, you don't have to admit them unless they
have a warrant signed by a judge.
2. However, in some emergency situations (like
when a person is screaming for help inside, or
when the police are chasing someone) officers
are allowed to enter and search your home
without a warrant.
3. If you are arrested, the police can search you
and the area close by. If you are in a building,
"close by" usually means just the room you are in.
We all recognize the need for effective law
enforcement, but we should also understand our
own rights and responsibilities -- especially in
our relationships with the police. Everyone,
including minors, has the right to courteous and
respectful police treatment.
If your rights are violated, don't try to deal with
the situation at the scene. You can discuss the
matter with an attorney afterwards, or file a
complaint with the Internal Affairs or Civilian
Produced by the American Civil Liberties