No matter the circumstances, it can prove to be a truly unsettling experience for a person to be pulled over for reasons entirely unknown to them or to have law enforcement officials suddenly materialize at their front door with a warrant.
Indeed, the fear that arises in these scenarios can sometimes be so great that it leads people to think that they are somehow at the mercy of law enforcement officials or that they are somehow obligated to assist them with their investigatory efforts. This, of course, far from true.
Indeed, everyone has certain inalienable rights under the U.S. Constitution regardless of whether they are stopped by federal agents, troopers or police officers, and we'll start exploring some of these rights in today's post.
If you are stopped while in your car
First and foremost, if a person sees flashing lights in their rearview mirror, experts indicate that they should pull over to a safe location as quickly as possible. Once this is accomplished, the motorist should then shut off the car, partially open the window, turn on the dome light and keep their hands on the steering wheel.
Once the law enforcement official identifies himself or herself, experts also advise complying with any requests to produce a driver's license, proof of insurance or registration.
In the event the law enforcement official next asks to look around the interior of the car, questions naturally arise as to whether the motorist can actually decline.
The simple answer is that a motorist is well within his or her rights to refuse to consent to such a search. However, they should know that a law enforcement official may conduct a search without consent if they have reason to believe evidence of a crime can be found.
It's important for a motorists -- and any passengers -- to know that they have the right to remain silent and can share their intention of exercising this right with the law enforcement official. Indeed, they cannot be punished for declining to answer any questions put to them by law enforcement officials.
We'll continue this extremely important conversation in our next post, examining an individual's rights if officers or agents arrive at their home with a search warrant, and if they are placed under arrest.
In the meantime, if you are under investigation or have been charged with any manner of major state felony or federal offense, consider speaking with a skilled legal professional who can protect your future and uncover any violations of your constitutional rights.