You migh t no t e xpec t thecops to respec t your righ ts.Bu t i f you don’ t asser t them,la w yers and judges ma y no tbe able to help you ei ther.Here are some spli t-secondsi tua tions you could easil yscre w up —and ho w no t to.
THE COPS ARE POUNDINGON YOUR DOOR
I f the police come to your home, the y areallo wed to k nock on your fron t door and wai tbrie fl y to see i f you wan t to talk to them. I f youdecline or do no t ans wer, the y mus t lea ve theproper t y. You are pro tec ted from un warran tedsearch and seizure b y the Four th A mendmen t.I f the police ha ve an arres t or search warran t, you mus t open the door. I t is usuall y bes t tos tep ou tside and close the door behind you to talk wi th them. I f you le t the police in, the y cando a “pro tec ti ve s weep” to mak e sure there areno o ther people inside who could presen t adanger to them. The y are also allo wed to arres t you for an y thing the y see in “plain vie w.” Once the police are in your home, assume the y’ll goon a fishing e xpedi tion.
THE COPS WAN T TO “ASK YOU A FE W QUES TIONS”
Remember these fi ve words: “I ha ve no thing tosa y.” Ne ver talk to the police abou t an y crimein which you ma y be implica ted. Whe ther youare guil t y or innocen t, the y ma y misrepresen tan y s ta temen ts you mak e in their repor t and tr y to manipula te you in to incrimina ting your-sel f. The Fi f th A mendmen t pro tec ts you frombeing forced to bear wi tness agains t yoursel f.Bu t don’ t e xpec t the police to look ou t for yourbes t in teres ts. Their goal is to use an y tac tic a t their disposal to produce incrimina ting in forma tion used to con vic t you. Four moreessen tial words: “I wan t a la w yer.”
YOU ARE BEING HARASSED B Y COPS IN PUBLIC
I f you are approached b y police while on foo tand you ha ve con traband or don’ t wan t to talk ,immedia tel y ask , “ A m I free to lea ve?” I f theo f ficer sa ys yes, simpl y walk a wa y. This is theonl y wa y you can pro tec t yoursel f fromun wan ted police a t ten tion. I f the cops ask for
B Y ALLISONB.M A RGOLINA ND J.R A Z A L AWRENCE