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Know Your Rights

What Are Your Rights? What to Know When Speaking to the Police

If you’ve been pulled over by the police and are being questioned by them, it’s hard to know what your rights are. Even though you have rights (such as remaining silent) the cop might imply that you have no choice but to do as they say.

Many people in New Orleans find themselves in this situation. They aren’t sure of what to do and rely too much on the police officer to guide them.

See below for an in-depth guide on what are your rights when speaking with the police. Be sure to remember these for the next time you’re pulled over in Jefferson or New Orleans.

Your Rights When You’ve Been Stopped

Most of the confusion on your rights occurs when you’ve been pulled over by a New Orleans police officer. You’re unsure of what you need to comply with and when you aren’t legally required to speak up.

See below for the rights that you have when you’ve been pulled over and are talking to the police in public.

1. The Right to Remain Silent

Anyone that’s watched a law show in the past knows the first part of their Miranda rights, which states that you “have the right to remain silent”.

However, not many people are aware that their right to remain silent begins as soon as you’re pulled over not only after you’ve been arrested.

This means that you don’t have to answer questions like “do you know how fast you were going?”, “where are you headed?”, or “what are you up to?”. You can choose to stay silent throughout to not damage your side of a potential court case.

Be warned, however, that you should state your interest in remaining silent out loud and right from the start. You will still be required to identify yourself when the officer requests it and they will more than likely arrest you if you refuse to.

2. You Have the Right to an Attorney

There’s a lot of confusion on this portion of the Miranda rights. You have two rights here: 1) the right to an attorney and 2) access to a government-appointed lawyer if you can’t afford one.

Be sure to take the time and find a trustworthy New Orleans attorney that you can call on in case of an emergency one day. Finding a reputable lawyer to work with will help your chances of winning the case from the start.

You’ll want to make sure and find a lawyer that has experience in the crime that the officer pulled you over for. For example, if you’ve been pulled over because you were speeding, then you’d want a traffic attorney to help you out.

3. The Right to Refuse Consent

If the officer suspects that there is additional evidence on yourself, they might consider conducting a search. Contrary to popular belief, you have the right to refuse the consent of that search.

While this might not stop them from conducting the search at the moment, your verbal refusal before they conducted the search can be used in your case.

Remember, an officer can’t conduct a search of your property without a warrant. State your refusal of consent early on, and if they search your property illegally, it will strengthen your case down the line.

How to Comply

Just because you have rights when being pulled over doesn’t mean you shouldn’t comply with the law enforcement officer. Whenever you’re speaking with the police, you should be respectful and honest with every decision you make.

Here are a few tips on how to comply and ease the tension of the situation for both yourself and the New Orleans officer that’s pulled you over.

1. Stay as Calm as Possible

While it can be intimidating and nerve-wracking to be pulled over by the police, remember to breath and stay as calm as possible. They’re human just like you are, and want to be treated with respect.

You can reduce the tension of the situation by being respectful and honest about exercising your rights. 

Lying or giving the officer fake documents (such as a fake car insurance ID) will only make matters worse. This will give them enough probable cause to arrest you and will weaken your case in legal proceedings moving forward.

2. Follow the Proper Process

It’s important to remember that even when you’ve been arrested, you still have the Miranda rights to protect you. But that doesn’t mean the officer(s) won’t try to get you to talk.

After you’ve been arrested, state your wish to remain silent once again and ask that you speak with your lawyer at once. If you have a lawyer in mind, be sure to give them the name so that they can make arrangements for you to speak with him/her.

You’ll be given one phone call, which you should use to call your attorney. Officers aren’t legally allowed to listen in on calls between yourself and your lawyer (thanks to attorney-client privileges).

However, if you choose to call a friend or a loved one, the officers are still allowed to listen in on the call.

What Are Your Rights: Memorize These for Future Use

You never know when you could find yourself talking to cops or answering questions after being pulled over. Remember what are your rights and how to use them properly.

Be sure to read this article for more information on the 10 things you should do to prepare for going to court.

For more inquiries, please be sure to reach out via our contact us page and we will be happy to assist you further.