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What are my rights if I am stopped by police in California?

On Behalf of | Feb 27, 2024 | Criminal Defense |

Getting stopped by the police can be an intimidating experience. Many people make the mistake of giving the police too much information or consenting to searches of their personal property. If you have been stopped by police, it is important to remember that you have rights.

Right to remain silent

Crime shows have made many people aware of the Miranda warnings, particularly the first line of it (“you have the right remain silent”). However, what you may not know is that the Miranda warnings consist of the following statements:

  • You have the right to remain silent.
  • Anything you say can be used against you in court.
  • You have the right to an attorney.
  • If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed to you.

You should also be aware that an officer generally will not read you your Miranda rights until after you have been arrested. That means that any statements you make prior to the arrest could be used against you, even if the officer has not yet read you the Miranda warnings.

If an officer has asked you a question, you should inform them that:

  • You will be remaining silent.
  • You would like to speak to an attorney.

You may have to provide your name and address in certain states, if asked. You may also be required to provide identification (e.g., driver’s license) or proof of insurance.

If you are placed under arrest, police must read you your Miranda rights before proceeding to interrogate you. If they fail to do so, any statements you make may not be admissible in your case.

Right to refuse a search

If an officer asks to search your person (your body), your bag, or your vehicle, you do not have to consent to the search. Generally, officers are required to have a warrant before they can search any area where a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy. However, there are several exceptions to this rule, which would allow an officer to search you or your property without a warrant. One of those exceptions is consent. if you consent to the search, the officer does not need a warrant.

If you have been stopped by police, you should always remain calm and polite, but provide as little information as possible. If you are arrested, your attorney can guide you through the interrogation process and help come up with a criminal defense strategy.