Police possess lots of power and authority. However, you have important constitutional rights that govern how police treat you.
Your actions and statements during a police stop can affect your criminal defense and even your personal safety in some cases.
During any stop:
- Stay calm.
- Keep your hands visible.
- Be polite.
- Never lie because falsehoods can also be grounds for a criminal prosecution.
- Do not argue.
- Do not resist.
- Never run away or interfere with the police officer because you may be arrested for this behavior.
You can ask if you are free to leave. If the police allow this, calmly and silently walk away but never run. If the police refuse this, you are being detained which is not an arrest. Police may frisk you for weapons by patting the outside of your clothing.
If the search exceeds a pat down, tell the police you do not consent to a search. Never resist if they proceed anyway.
You can ask for the officer’s name and badge number. Your attorney act later and file a report if there is any police misconduct.
Anything you say may allow police to arrest you and can be used against you in a criminal prosecution, despite any assurance made by police. If you choose to remain silent, which is encouraged, tell the police that you want to remain silent.
You do not have to answer questions about your identity. But it is usually recommended to answer questions about your name, age, and address.
You are not required to provide identification unless you are stopped in your vehicle. When this occurs, you must provide your license, vehicle registration and proof of insurance.
You do not have to consent to a search of yourself, your vehicle, or your home. You may tell police that you do not consent to a search. If the police state that they have a warrant, ask to see it. It is important to refuse a warrantless search but never resist.
If police signal you to stop, park your vehicle in a safe place as quick as you can. Turn off the ignition, turn on an inside light, open the window partially and place your hands on the steering wheel.
As noted, you must show your license, registration and proof of insurance if requested. You may refuse to consent to police request to search of your vehicle. If police believe your vehicle contains evidence of a crime, however, they may search it without a warrant and your consent.
Drivers and passengers may remain silent. Passengers can ask the police if they are free to leave. If the request is refused, passengers are allowed to remain silent.
Police are permitted to ask the motorist and passengers to step outside of the vehicle. They may also separate passengers from each other, question them and compare answers. But everyone still has the right to remain silent.
You should sign any ticket given by police or you may be arrested. Georgia can suspend your license if you are suspected of driving under the influence and refuse a breath, blood, or alcohol test.
Never resist an arrest. Remain silent until you speak to an attorney. You may refuse to answer questions even if you answered questions earlier. State nothing but your name, age, and address. Do not provide explanations or excuses for your conduct.
You may make a local phone call. Police cannot listen if you call an attorney.
Police have to provide a receipt for anything taken from you such as your wallet and its contents, clothing, jewelry, and any items that you were carrying when you were arrested. Review your receipt to assure that it is correct and complete.
You may be released with or without bail after booking. If you are not released within 48 to 72 hours, demand to see a judge.
Do not make any decisions on your case or speak to police until you speak to an attorney. Lawyers can assist you with your defense and help assure that your rights are protected.