What should you do if stopped by the police?

If you are stopped by the police here in Chicago, it's important not to surrender your Constitutionally-protected rights. But because these encounters are often a surprise and quite emotionally-charged, you may be unsure what you should, and shouldn't do.

First and foremost, your overriding goal is to survive the encounter. There are, sadly, far too many instances where the police executed a stop and the detained individual wound up dead. With that in mind, the following tips may be helpful.

  • You have the right to remain silent.

If you are walking or driving down the street and the police stop and ask you where you're headed, you have no obligation to respond. In most cases, the most you may need to do is state your name and show your driver's license, car registration and proof of insurance (for those driving).

  • Admit nothing, but never lie.

The correct answer to "How much have you had to drink tonight?" is not "a couple of beers." That is a self-admission that you drank and are now driving, which opens the door to further investigation.

But lying to the police can bring additional charges and is never advisable. You can simply state you are exercising your right to remain silent and want to speak to your attorney.

  • Do not resist arrest.

This can set off a chain of events that very likely could get you killed. Don't run or avoid being handcuffed. Keep your hands where the officers can see they are empty. Never provide false identification documents to the police, as that will only bring additional charges.

If you believe your civil rights were violated during your arrest, you can take legal action once you are released from jail.

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