Being stopped by the police can be a tense, emotional experience for anyone, regardless of how or why he or she is being questioned. It is important to remember that the way you conduct yourself when stopped by police can have enormous implications on further legal actions the police may take. Following a few simple but vitally important guidelines can mean the difference between being arrested and being free to leave a scene.
Firstly, you must remain calm and not attempt to escape or run away. Regardless of your innocence, it is never wise to raise your voice with a police officer, even if an officer is violating your rights. Stay calm and keep your hands in plain sight of the officer.
Ask the officer if you are free to leave the scene. In the event that the officer verbally confirms that you may leave, it is best to quickly and quietly walk away. If the officer says you may not leave, you have the right to know if you are under arrest. If you are under arrest, you have the right know why you are being arrested.
If the situation proceeds to the point that you are arrested, as part of your right to remain silent you cannot be punished for refusing to provide answers to an officer’s questions. North Carolina does not require an individual to identify themselves to an officer or to produce identification. Should you wish to remain silent when arrested, you should specifically tell the officer that you wish to remain silent.
If you are arrested, you have the right to refuse consent to having yourself or your belongings searched. If a police officer suspects that you are carrying a weapon, he or she is permitted to pat down your clothing, and you should not resist this procedure. You may still refuse consent to any search beyond the cursory pat down.
Being stopped by the police can be frustrating and stressful, but it does not have to be devastating. The representation of an experienced legal professional can help anyone who has been accused of a crime protect one’s rights and seek a fair outcome.