The Constitution's framers recognized from the very beginning that they needed to form a set of guidelines to keep the government in check and to prevent unreasonable governmental intrusions. Over the years, some of those rights have changed. Your best defense is information, knowing the law and your basic rights will help you in many situations when the government (or local law enforcement) interferes with your private life.

Your Rights

  • You have the right to remain silent. If you wish to exercise that right, say so out loud!
    • Don't engage in conversation with law enforcement, don't feel like you have to offer explanations.
    • If you are in an accident, remember that what you say during the traffic investigation can not be used against you. Once the traffic investigation is over, tell the officer that you are using your right to remain silent and do not answer any more questions unless you have an attorney present.
    • Remember that officers can use "deception" or lie about what they know in order to obtain valuable information that they will use against you.
  • You have the right to refuse to consent to a search of yourself, your car or your home.
    • If an officer is asking for permission, it's a RED FLAG! Say no. Do not feel obligated out of politeness to allow the officer to search you or your possessions.
    • If you do give consent to a pat down search, keep in mind that a pat down search for both drugs and weapons does not exist! An officer may pat you down if he/she feels concerned for officer safety and has reason to believe that you may have a weapon on you. If the officer begins to go into your clothing or belongings, speak up! The officer has gone farther than the permission you have given. If you don't stop the search and say no, you may be waiving your valuable rights.
    • Never sign a consent form for the search and never waive your rights to your constitutional protection!
  • If you are not under arrest, you have the right to calmly leave.
    • Ask if you are free to leave and walk away. If the officer tells you that you are not free to leave, ask why you are being detained and ask for your attorney.
    • If you are a passenger in a vehicle, unless the officer has reason to detain you, you are free to walk away from the traffic stop.
  • You have the right to a lawyer if you are arrested. Ask for one immediately.
    • You have a right to a lawyer at all critical stages. If the officer is asking you questions, if the officer is searching you, and if you are being arrested, you have a right to the presence of an attorney.
  • Regardless of your immigration or citizenship status, you have constitutional rights.

Your Responsibilities

  • Do stay calm and be polite.
  • Do not interfere with or obstruct the police.
  • Do not lie or give false documents.
  • Do prepare yourself and your family in case you are arrested.
  • Do remember the details of the encounter.
  • Do file a written complaint if you feel you are being targeted.

Download this one-page "card" of rights from the ACLU:

If you have been arrested or contacted by law enforcement about a case or criminal matter, remember your rights! Contact The Colbert Law Firm at (407) 412-7234 immediately to ensure that your rights are preserved.


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