If you are stopped by a cop, whether you are or are not in possession of anything, it will most likely be a highly unpleasant experience. Cops conducting a stop are almost never friendly, helpful, or polite. They can often become agitated at the slightest sign of any hostility towards them and they will likely move quickly to violence. To avoid this, you will want to comply with whatever the officer conducting the stop does, regardless of its legality. This can help you make it out of the ordeal unscathed. It is important to know your rights when you are stopped by the police.
Interacting With An Officer
In order for a police officer to stop you, he must have "reasonable suspicion" that you are committing a crime, or have recently committed a crime. However, if an officer really wants to stop you, he will; officers have the privilege of acting first and dealing with the consequences later down the road. The important thing to remember is to try your best not to agitate, disrespect, or otherwise give the cop any reason to take action against you. Keep these tips in mind:
- Always be polite and respectful. There is nothing more irritating to an officer of the law than not immediately getting respect from every person he interacts with. Anything less than kind and courteous may exacerbate the situation.
- Remain calm. So long as you remain calm, the officer will as well. Don't give him any reason to be on edge.
- Avoid arguing with the officer. If the officer wants to search you or your premises, he most likely will do it. You can simply and calmly say aloud that you do not consent to the search.
- Don't attempt to flee. Under certain circumstances, Washington State law permits lethal force when a suspect is on the run from an officer.
- You don't have to answer anything you don't want to. Do not answer any of the officers questions if you feel that they are incriminating. You will likely have to furnish your identity, but anything beyond that does not have to be answered.
- Try to get officer's badge number or name. As long as you remain calm, the officer may provide his name and badge number. If he does not, try to get a look at it, and remember it.
- After it is over, find any witnesses. If anyone witnessed what happened, talk to them about what they saw and maybe exchange information.
- If you are injured, seek medical attention and try to photograph and document your injuries. Medical care comes first, but try to get medical records and photographs of your injuries.
- If your rights have been violated, contact an attorney as soon as possible. It cannot be emphasized enough that officers are likely to simply do what they want, when they want to. If you sense that your rights are being violated, do not object or panic; instead, try to formulate a plan, and contact an attorney right away.
Stops and Searches
Drug crimes carry severe sentencing, most of which involve jail time, and most likely a felony on your record. In fact, you can be convicted of a drug crime if drugs are simply present on the scene, and not even on your person. Defending a drug crime in court can be tough because of Washington's harsh drug laws. Because of this, it is important to avoid any kind of search of your person, if you happen to be carrying drugs.
If You Are Stopped On The Street
Sometimes an officer may stop you on the street for a brief questioning. These situations can be nerve-wracking and stressful, especially if you are carrying anything incriminating. Remember:
- You do not need to answer anything that you do not want to or that might be incriminating. Cops love to ask loaded questions that will get them an arrest. Politely decline to answer their questions.
- Remain calm in your interactions. Arguing with the officer or acting nervous will give him the suspicion he need to conduct an arrest or a further search.
- If an officer suspects you may have a concealed weapon, you may be subject to a brief pat-down search, but nothing more. If they continue to proceed, politely remind them that you do not consent.
- Ask if you are under arrest, and if so, why; if you are being arrested you have a right to know the reason. If you are not being arrested, politely ask the officer if you are free to go.
If You Are Stopped In A Car
If you are pulled over, you are required to identify yourself and any necessary driving documents to the officer. Officers conduct regular road stops for a variety of things, however, you will want to remember a few things during a vehicle stop:
- Respectfully and calmly present the necessary documentation to the officer. It is best to have these out and ready for him before he even walks over to your car.
- If the officer tickets you for a traffic offense, accept the ticket and move on. You can fight traffic offenses at a later court date.
- In general, the cops may not search your vehicle without a warrant; however, certain circumstances will permit them to do so. Typically, if a cop suspects a crime has been committed in the vehicle, he may be allowed to conduct a warrantless search. Always politely inform the officer politely that you do not consent to the search. If a search leads to an arrest and drug charges, contact an attorney right away.
Since drug laws are so strict, it is best to contact an attorney right away when facing charges. An attorney can help you fight charges in court, or get certain evidence that would have led to a conviction suppressed. If you or a loved one is facing drug charges contact Steve Karimi today.