Don’t Resist Law Enforcement – Protect Yourself, Let Us Fight for Your Rights
It has become all too clear in the past year that we have a problem with the way that law enforcement sometimes interacts with citizens. Here in Pittsburgh, problems may not have gotten to the point that it has in Baltimore or Cleveland, but those of us that interact with law enforcement on a regular basis have seen numerous examples of tensions and problems in communications between average citizens and police.
With so many misunderstandings, it is easy to feel like the police are out to get us, but in reality, law enforcement is supposed to keep our city safe and treat us fairly, regardless of race, ethnicity, national origin, or religion. If you feel that an officer of the law has violated this principle, it is normal to feel angry or mistreated. You should feel these emotions. It’s important for your own sake, though, not to resist law enforcement. Not only can it escalate an already tense interaction and potentially get you hurt, but it could also get you arrested. Even minor resistance is a misdemeanor; if an officer is hurt, you could be charged with a felony.
This doesn’t mean you should relinquish your rights, of course. You have the right to remain silent. If you want to use it, politely say so. You have the right to not consent to a search of your vehicle, person, or home. Don’t be afraid to speak up. Just remember that if police decide to conduct a search or take you in anyway, you are better off doing as instructed without a fight. Protect yourself first. Don’t let yourself become a tragedy of injustice. Instead, immediately call a Pittsburgh criminal attorney like us at Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC. Let us fight for your rights.
How to Interact with Law Enforcement
In many situations, though, violence and violations of your rights may be able to be avoided if you know how to interact with law enforcement in a way that protects yourself first. The following tips should help you to have better, more positive interactions with police.
- Always stay calm and polite. It is tempting to be rude to someone if you feel they are being rude to you, but don’t. If you maintain a polite, calm demeanor, you are much less likely to be accused of resisting.
- Ask if you are free to leave. If you are, give a polite goodbye and calmly walk away. If you are under arrest, you have the right to know why and the right to an attorney.
- Remember that you have the right to refuse a search. Your consent matters in court. You should not physically resist if police push forward with a search, but any evidence found may be inadmissible.
- If requested, give police your name, address, and date of birth. You have the right to not answer any other questions, including any related to your immigration status. Just tell the officer politely that you are invoking your right to remain silent.
- Never lie. If you give any information, it must be the truth. Lying to law enforcement is illegal.
- Do not run or resist arrest, even if you are sure you did nothing wrong. You will have a chance to prove your innocence with the help of a Pittsburgh criminal attorney later. Resisting only causes you more problems.
- Ask for a lawyer immediately. You are entitled to call one or ask for a public defender. Don’t say anything, sign anything, or agree to anything without a lawyer.
- Never try to challenge police conduct on the street. If you see injustice, you should report it and record it if you can, but the place to make your accusation is not out in public. Don’t threaten to make a complaint or resist while far from a station. Instead, tell an attorney about the actions of the police, and file a formal complaint with internal affairs or the Citizen Police Review Board of Pittsburgh.
- Write down everything you remember about the incident right away. This includes badge numbers of police and names if you know them. This will help you better remember what happened.
Hopefully, these tips will prevent you from an unpleasant interaction with law enforcement.
Sadly, incidents of injustice continue to be reported every day. We believe no person in Pittsburgh or America as a whole should have his or her rights violated, and we will fight to ensure that you are protected. If an interaction with police goes south, call our Pittsburgh criminal attorneys today at (412) 281-2146 to report the incident. We will protect your rights every step of the way. Don’t fight law enforcement; let us fight for you.