If you ever find yourself being pulled over by a police officer on Long Island or in the New York area, you should be aware of your rights. This means knowing what the cop can and cannot do legally, but it also means knowing your own responsibilities. The list is not too complicated, so take the time to familiarize yourself with it. Doing so can protect you legally; as a citizen of the United States you are entitled to rights under the Constitution. Even if you are not, it is still important to understand your rights in advance. Empowering ourselves by knowing and acting on our rights helps us protect ourselves from injustice and creating unnecessary risks.
- You have the right to remain silent
- You can refuse a police officer’s request to search your vehicle
- If arrested, you have the right to an attorney, in this case a traffic attorney
- You still have rights even if you are not a citizen
Often, the first thing an arresting officer will state is “you have the right to remain silent.” This is an element of procedural law and is stated to protect you from self-incrimination. It is important to remember that this right does not start when you become arrested. From the moment the police officer arrives at your window, you do not legally have to respond to them. Though you should comply with their requests, it may be in your best interests to not do so in the event that you are performing an illegal act. To make the right known, simply tell the officer you are exercising it. This will eliminate any confusion on their part and will also be recorded by their camera.
If the police officer says that they want to search your vehicle, you have no legal responsibility to do so. However, if the officer suspects there is criminal evidence present, they can perform a search without your consent. If not, they will require a warrant. If you are arrested, you have the right to a New York traffic attorney. This right works in conjunction with the right to remain silent. It is best to not to say anything until your attorney arrives, as they will be there to instruct you properly. If you are unable to afford an attorney of your own, the government is legally bound to provide you with free public representation.
Please do not think that just because you are not a citizen of the United States that you have no rights. You do not have to answer any questions about your citizenship status, but if you have immigration papers, you must show them to the officer. Never lie about your status; simply tell the officer you wish to remain silent.
To best protect yourself when being pulled over, remember to stay calm and don’t give the officer any reason to suspect that you may be a threat. Verbally state every action you are making and never elaborate your answers. Keep responses straight and to the point if you are going to communicate. If you have further questions or a specific legal issue that requires assistance, please contact our Lindenhurst, NY law office today at 631-225-4603.