If you’re like many people, you’re not sure what your rights are when you’re stopped by the police and arrested – so this guide, What Rights Do You Have With the Police, explains.
What Rights Do You Have With the Police?
When police interact with you, you have the right to:
- Due process
- Be free from unreasonable searches and seizures
- Be treated humanely
- Be told you are being arrested and why
- Be advised of your constitutional rights
- See a warrant within a reasonable time of your arrest
- Contact someone to let them know you’ve been arrested
- Consult with an attorney and have a private conversation with him or her
- Remain silent
- Stop answering questions at any time
- Reasonable bail
- See a judge within a reasonable amount of time after your arrest
Here’s a closer look at each.
#1. Due process
Your right to due process means that you won’t be deprived of life, liberty or property without legal authorization. You can’t be arrested and imprisoned without reason.
#2. Be free from unreasonable searches and seizures
The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees that “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
#3. Be treated humanely
You have the right to be treated humanely – not cruelly – when you’re arrested by police.
#4. Be told you are being arrested and why
The Human Rights Act says that you have the right to be told why you’re being arrested in a language you understand.
#5. Be advised of your constitutional rights
At some point after your arrest, you have the right to be advised that you do, in fact, have rights.
Related: Common myths about Miranda rights
#6. See a warrant within a reasonable time of your arrest
If police have a warrant for your arrest, you have the right to see it within a reasonable amount of time. Reasonable is open to interpretation, but if police are arresting you and you ask to see the warrant, they should be able to produce it without making you wait for days.
#7. Contact someone to let them know you’ve been arrested
You have the right to let a friend or family member know you’ve been arrested, and even what you’ve been charged with. (That’s your “right to a phone call” that you see on TV.)
Pro tip: Don’t discuss your case over the phone. Police can – and do – listen in on phone calls.
#8. Consult with an attorney and have a private conversation with him
You have the right to legal counsel, and you have the right to private conversations about your case. If you can’t afford a lawyer, the court will appoint one for you.
#9. Remain silent
You don’t have to answer the police’s questions. You can simply say that you’d like to use your right to remain silent and let the officer or investigator you’re talking to know that you want to speak with an attorney.
#10. Stop answering questions at any time
Even if you start answering questions, you have the right to stop answering them at any time. The best thing to do is use your right to remain silent, but if you’ve already started talking to police, you have the right to change your mind and stop answering questions – no matter what the police tell you.
#11. Reasonable bail
The judge assigned to your case is required to assign a reasonable bail amount (except for capital crimes). That means he or she can’t say that you can only bail yourself out of jail for $1 million if you’re accused of shoplifting a magazine, for example.
#12. See a judge within a reasonable amount of time after your arrest
The police can’t hold you indefinitely without pushing your case through the court system. You have a right to see a judge – at least so you can plead guilty or not guilty – within a reasonable amount of time.
Have You Been Accused of a Crime or Arrested by Police?
If you’ve been arrested because the police suspect you of committing a crime, we may be able to help you. Call us at 847-920-4540 right away. We’ll be happy to provide you with a free consultation and answer your questions about your case. If it’s easier, fill out the form below and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.