As we discussed in the last blog post, interactions with police can be stressful, especially considering that police do not necessarily have to tell the truth in certain situations.
However, what about from your perspective? What should you do if you must interact with the police? Here are some critical tips to remember.
1. Use your right to remain silent
“You have the right to remain silent” is a common enough phrase to hear, but it bears repeating – and remembering. Police may not have to inform you of your Miranda rights, or your rights under the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution unless you are:
- Under arrest
- In police custody
- Under interrogation
Even so, you still have the right to remain silent. This is a critical right to protect you against self-incrimination.
Additionally, North Carolina does not have a “stop and identify” statute. This means that you do not even have to provide your name or identification if the police stop you on the street. This does not apply to a traffic stop, where you may have to provide your license. However, you have the right to remain silent and politely refuse to answer questions in both of these situations.
2. Remember one question
While you should state that you wish to remain silent and adhere to that, there is one question you should remember to ask: “Am I being detained?”
As National Public Radio highlighted in 2020, this is an important question if the police stop you, whether you are on the street or in your car. If the answer is no, you have every right to stop the interaction and leave.
3. Being civil is the best route
Remaining civil can seem difficult in situations involving police. This is especially true if:
- The police ask demanding and aggressive questions
- You are angry and scared
- You did not do anything wrong
However, acting aggressively in return can make the interaction last longer than it needs to – which could put you at risk. In certain situations, it could even lead to being detained or arrested. Therefore, staying civil throughout the interaction is important to protect yourself.