When stopped by police, residents often feel anxious and fearful. These altercations can happen out of nowhere and may turn ugly, fast. Citizens know they have rights specific to these situations but may not know how to exercise them.

Understanding one’s rights during a police encounter can save a citizen from an unnecessary arrest, unsubstantiated charges and even physical harm.

Follow these guidelines when dealing with cops

Police officers regularly use intimidation tactics to antagonize suspects. No law prohibits police from lying or bullying citizens, and they employ these behaviors to rattle people into making mistakes. The best way to combat this aggression is to remain calm and exercise one’s rights as an American citizen:

  • Stay quiet: No law can force a private citizen to submit to police questioning without a lawyer. An individual should not answer any questions or provide any identifying information. If they wish, a person can tell the officers they are exercising their right to remain silent.
  • Do not consent to a search: Police may pat a citizen down if they suspect they carry a weapon, but the law prohibits a full search without a warrant. The officer might still perform an unlawful search of a citizen’s property or person. In that case, one should express their lack of consent, but should not otherwise resist or speak further.
  • Ask to leave: Citizens can ask to leave at any time. If denied, an individual can ask if they are under arrest. If an officer decides to make an arrest, do not panic and do not resist. An arrest is not a charge, nor is it a conviction. Citizens should request a lawyer until granted one.
  • Record everything: Citizens can record the police if it does not interfere with an investigation. If a person finds it impossible to record, they can write down all the details they can remember, including badge numbers, officer names, vehicle numbers, descriptions of witnesses, etc.

Seek legal counsel immediately

The most important thing a Minnesota resident can do after an arrest is to contact a local attorney familiar with criminal defense. The law requires police to supply citizens a public defender, who can advise on when to speak, what to say and outline next steps.