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What are my rights if the police question me?

On Behalf of | Jun 27, 2023 | Criminal Defense

In Ohio and other locales, you must understand your legal rights to navigate and reduce risk when encountering the police. Individuals have the right to protect themselves and have a fair process. The following provides valuable details and what actions to take if your rights have been violated.

Right to remain silent

You have the right to stay silent and not provide any answers to questions asked by the police. In most cases, you have no obligation to disclose private information about your activities, whereabouts or personal details unless legally required. For example, in some states, you must give your name if the police ask you to identify yourself, and if you refuse, it may result in an arrest. Clearly state your intention to remain silent if you exercise this right.

You also have the right to stay silent if questioned about immigration, such as when or how you entered the country, your citizenship or birthplace. However, separate rules apply at certain locations, such as airports, international borders and for those with a non-immigrant visa for travel or business.

Right to refuse searches

You have the right to refuse a search of your belongings and yourself. However, it is legal for police to pat down your clothing if they reasonably suspect you could be armed. Refusing consent to a search may not always prevent the police from performing one. Still, expressing your objection immediately upfront may help preserve your rights in subsequent legal proceedings.

Right to legal representation

You have the right to legal representation if the police arrest you, even if you cannot afford a criminal defense lawyer. You have a right to assistance from a government-appointed attorney. You must immediately exercise this right and ask for a lawyer before providing any explanations or signing any documents that you have not discussed first with legal counsel.

What to do if someone violates your rights

You must take appropriate action if you feel your rights were violated. First, document every detail you can remember, including the law enforcement agency, officers’ badge numbers or patrol car numbers. Get contact information from any witnesses present. If you have sustained injuries, get medical attention and take photographs to document them. You can also file a complaint anonymously with the law enforcement agency’s civilian complaint board or internal affairs division.

Knowing your rights is essential to protect them during police encounters. You can navigate legal situations more effectively by remaining calm, asserting your rights and taking appropriate action.


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