There are a wide array of situation where you have rights that may not be impeded upon by law enforcement. Below, a Loudoun County criminal lawyer discusses a few of these situations and how to tell if your rights have been violated. To learn more about the legality of a stop or arrest, call and schedule a consultation today.
If the police come to your house to ask you questions, you should inquire as to whether or not they have a warrant for your arrest or a search warrant. If they have neither, you should politely decline to answer any questions that they ask. There is little that can benefit you from talking to the police without counsel at this time.
If you are walking on the streets and you are stopped by the police, there are certain procedures in place that are governed by constitutional laws. This is known as Terry stop, and it is refers to the case of Terry vs. Ohio.
In a Terry stop, the officer may stop you and inquire as to a number of questions, including your name, date of birth, and other identifying information. This includes asking for your identification and inquiring into things such as where you are going or where you are coming from. In addition, an officer at this time may do a Terry pat down for weapons, which is for your safety and theirs. During this time period you may ask the officer if you are being detained or simply ask questions with regards to your Terry stop. If you are not being detained, you may ask the officer if you are free to leave.
When you are detained or in police custody, you have certain rights. These are generally known as your Miranda rights. These include the right to remain silent, right to talk to an attorney, and other rights as found in the Miranda warning as guaranteed by the case of Miranda v. Arizona.
You should feel free to exercise these rights at any time and not feel obliged to waive these rights. Often an officer will ask you to waive these rights to ask additional questions. You should not feel any pressure to do so.
If you are asked questions and choose to answer those questions, then generally that is a consensual encounter and you are not in custody or being detained. If you ask the officer if you are free to leave and he says “no,” then you are being detained. Beyond the biographical information above, you are not obligated to answer investigatory questions at any time
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