Encounters with law enforcement can be stressful, and even seemingly simple interactions have the potential to go bad. Staying calm and understanding your rights can make the difference between a routine stop and a potentially ugly confrontation with police. Such confrontations can lead to your arrest and the need for a reliable bail bond company.
Here are a few things to keep in mind:
Officers Take Their Cues from You
If you’re approached by police in public, the officer is most likely watching your behavior for any signs that you may present a problem. He/she is looking to see whether you are intoxicated, otherwise impaired, mentally ill, or potentially violent. And while it is not your obligation to de-escalate a situation, maintaining a calm and compliant attitude can help put officers at ease and reduce the risk of harm to you or those with you. A few tips:
- Don’t raise your voice
- Don’t interrupt an officer
- Don’t argue
- Keep your hands visible
- Don’t run
- Be truthful
What Questions Must You Answer?
If you are stopped in public, an officer may ask a range of questions to determine your actions. For example, you may be asked for your address, what you’re doing in the area, where you’ve been recently, or where you’re headed. You may also be asked where you were born or about your citizenship status. You are NOT legally required to divulge any of this information. Remember, the officer is gathering information to build a case against you, and any information obtained will be used for that purpose. If you choose to remain silent, state to the officer(s) that you are asserting this right, and do not answer any questions or sign any papers until you have an attorney present.
What Questions May You Ask?
During an encounter with police, you are permitted to ask why you are being stopped, whether you are being detained (rather than simply questioned), and if you are free to go. If you are pulled over during a traffic stop, your passengers may ask if they are being detained. If the officer says they are not, they may leave silently (and without removing anything from the vehicle).
Must You Consent to a Search?
During a stop, an officer may ask to search your person or your vehicle. While police may pat you down to determine whether you are armed, you are not required by law to consent to a search. However, your refusal of a search is no guarantee that the search will be stopped. If officers believe they have probable cause (such as an open liquor bottle or drug paraphernalia in plain view), they may proceed with the search despite your objections.
The age of the smartphone has allowed citizens to record (and publish) public encounters with law enforcement that they believe constitute police misconduct. If you are filming an encounter with law enforcement (either involving yourself or a third party), there are some things to keep in mind.
- Stay on public property or your own property while filming.
- Do not conceal the fact you are filming.
- Do not interfere with police during a stop or arrest.
- If asked to step back, do so.
Police may attempt to view or confiscate footage they believe incriminates them. Officers cannot view your video/images without a warrant, and you are not required by law to surrender your camera or to delete your video. Officers may still attempt to arrest you for filming—and this is an important risk you will need to weigh in the moment. If you believe you are witnessing a case of police misconduct but are prevented from recording, make notes of any details you feel are important (such as the number of officers present, weapons used, etc.).
We hope these tips help reduce your risk during encounters with law enforcement. At Bond James Bond, understand that these interactions don’t always go smoothly. We’ve built our reputation by helping defendants meet their personal and professional obligations while awaiting trial. If you or a loved one has been arrested and charged with a crime, contact Bond James Bond today, and discover how our licensed bond agents can help.
Bond, James Bond, Inc. can handle any size or type of Georgia bail bonds in Barrow County, Bartow County, Cherokee County, Clarke County, Cobb County, Floyd County, Gordon County, Gwinnett County, Paulding County and Polk County. We are always open - 24 hours a day, 7 days a week including holidays. We have 11 locations which are conveniently located to serve you better. Visit us at www.bondjamesbondinc.com, or call Bond, James Bond, Inc. at (770) 382-9111.