The thought alone of interacting with a police officer is enough to make you sweat. And that’s especially true if you’re being accused of a crime. You want to protect your rights but don’t want to cause conflict, so you might be wondering how to deal with police officers the right way?
Our experienced Denver criminal defense attorney at the Law Offices of Steven J. Pisani, LLC has been enforcing the rights of Colorado residents for over a decade. He offers five tips you can follow when dealing with police.
When you know your legal rights (also known as your constitutional rights), it’s easier to protect yourself during any type of interaction with a police officer.
For example, the Fifth Amendment provides you the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney. In other words, you’re under no obligation to speak to the officer and you have the right to consult with a legal professional.
If you’re put under arrest, the officer is required to read you your Miranda rights as follows:
You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can be used against you in court. You have the right to talk to a lawyer for advice before we ask you any questions. You have the right to have a lawyer with you during questioning. If you cannot afford a lawyer, one will be appointed for you before any questioning if you wish. If you decide to answer questions now without a lawyer present, you have the right to stop answering at any time.
This goes along with the tip directly above. An officer may ask you a variety of questions, all with the idea of confusing you so you say something they can use to put you under arrest.
If there’s a question you don’t understand or a question you’re not comfortable answering, politely decline. You don’t have to give an exact reason for declining. Simply let the officer know that you’re not comfortable providing an answer.
The only questions you are obligated to answer are:
Just make sure the officer doesn’t trick you into saying something that incriminates you.
This is where many people make a big mistake. In Colorado, eluding the police can result in felony criminal charges. The penalties vary depending on if anyone was hurt during your attempt to flee:
For non-citizens, keep in mind that eluding police is a deportable offense. Rather than flee the scene, communicate with the officer while respectfully protecting your legal rights. Even if you’re able to run away for the time being, the law will eventually catch up to you. And that’s not something that you want hanging over your head.
This is easier said than done, especially if the officer is being rude. However, when you’re disrespectful in any manner—such as talking back or using obscene language—there’s a greater likelihood that the officer will put you under arrest.
While it’s not common, an officer can arrest you for using “fighting words” on the grounds of breach of peace or disorderly conduct.
If you want to know how to deal with police officers without causing further conflict, stay away from using aggressive language that can be interpreted as provoking violence or being threatening to the officer.
Imagine a situation in which you’re pulled over for suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol.
While the officer believes that you’re under the influence, you disagree. And for that reason, when they attempt to put you under arrest, you get the urge to fight back.
You should know that resisting arrest in Colorado is a class 2 misdemeanor, resulting in 3 to 12 months in jail and/or fines of $250 to $1,000.
Rather than resist arrest, follow the officer’s instructions while remaining quiet. You don’t want the possibility of additional criminal charges added to an already stressful situation.
Immigration status adds another layer of challenges when dealing with police officers. Not only are you concerned about the crime you may have committed, but you’re terrified that your immigration or citizenship status could affect what happens next.
Here’s what you need to know:
When interacting with a police officer, there are steps you can take to protect your legal rights and hopefully defuse the situation.
However, if you’re put under arrest and find yourself moving through the legal system, you must consult with a knowledgeable Denver criminal defense attorney.
Your legal team at the Law Offices of Steven J. Pisani, LLC will review your criminal case and provide you with expert guidance. We’re passionate about helping good people through tough times and we’ll do whatever it takes to help prevent a conviction and the punishments associated with it.
As a bonus tip, remember to ask these questions during your first consultation with your criminal attorney:
These basic questions will help you better understand your legal rights, how your attorney can help, and what you can do to assist them.
Even though there’s no guarantee of success in the courtroom, you’re in a much better position when you consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney. Contact us online or give us a call today to schedule your free consultation.