Sometimes, it can seem like the police in Kansas City hold all the cards. But you have rights in almost every situation where the police want to detain you or search your property. For example, you have the right not to be subject to unreasonable search and seizures by the police, and the right to be represented by an attorney during police questioning after you are arrested.

Here is a quick overview of how to protect your rights as much as possible from police overreach:

During a traffic stop

  • If a police car indicates you should pull over, do so as quickly as possible.
  • Turn off the engine, turn on the interior light, open your window partway and rest your hands on the steering wheel.
  • If the officer requests them, present your driver’s license, vehicle registration and proof of insurance.
  • If the officer asks to search your vehicle, you do not have to consent. But the officer may be able to search it anyway.

While detained in public

  • Remain calm and keep your hands visible.
  • Ask the officer if you are under arrest or free to leave. If the officer says you can leave, walk away calmly.
  • If you are under arrest, ask the officer why. You have the right to know.
  • If the officer asks you questions, you have the right not to answer. Tell the officer politely that you decline to answer.
  • The officer has the right to pat you down outside your clothes if they suspect you have a weapon. But you have the right to refuse consent to a more invasive search of your clothing, your person or your possessions.

At home

  • If police officers knock at your door, you do not have to let them in unless they have a search warrant or arrest warrant.
  • Ask the officers to show you the warrant. Don’t open the door; have them hold it up to the door’s window or peephole, or slip it under the door to you.
  • You have the right to remain silent when officers are inside your home. If you wish to speak with the officers, go outside and shut the door behind you.

Despite your best efforts, you may not be able to preserve your civil rights while dealing with the police in the moment. One of a criminal defense attorney’s jobs is to review the conduct of the police who investigated and arrested you. Any illegal tactics they commit could get some or all of the evidence suppressed.