Experience You Can Trust

  1. Home
  2.  | 
  3. Criminal Defense
  4.  | Criminal defense — know your rights if police stop you

Criminal defense — know your rights if police stop you

On Behalf of | Feb 8, 2024 | Criminal Defense |

It can be quite stressful if you are stopped by the police, especially if you’ve never encountered legal problems before. Whether it’s a traffic stop or you’re stopped while walking down the street, it’s important to know your rights and what you should and should not do during the interaction. If you wind up in police custody, it is also helpful to know where to seek criminal defense support.

In a traffic stop situation, the first thing to remember is that police must have reasonable cause to make a traffic stop. They can’t simply pull you over at random for no justifiable reason. Furthermore, they must establish probable cause to make an arrest, meaning evidence that you have committed a crime.

Criminal defense begins with knowing what to do

If police pull you over in traffic, there are certain things you should do:

  • Remain in your vehicle, unless the police officer instructs you to step out.
  • Always keep both of your hands visible to the officer.
  • Obey instructions calmly and respectfully, such as showing your driver’s license, insurance information and proof of registration.

If a New York police officer tells you to exit your vehicle, it likely means you’re suspected of intoxication. If this is the case, it is critically important to know what to do. You are under no obligation to take a field sobriety test or breath test during a traffic stop and may invoke your Fifth Amendment right to remain silent if the officer starts asking you questions about drinking. However, in New York refusing to take field sobriety tests or a breath test when ordered to by a police officer will result in serious legal ramifications.

What if the police stop you as a pedestrian?

If you’re walking down the street and a police officer approaches, it’s important to stop walking. Trying to flee will only result in legal problems. Here are several things you can do if police stop you on the street:

  • Confirm your identity if asked to do so.
  • Request proof of a warrant if they want to search you.
  • Ask for the officer’s name and badge number.
  • Request legal representation before answering investigative questions.

There are many reasons why police might stop you on the street. Someone may have pointed you out in a crowd as a possible suspect in a crime. Police might be looking for someone who looks like you. Maybe they think you witnessed a crime. In any event, you may exercise your right to remain silent and may request to speak with a criminal defense attorney, especially if you are being arrested.


Law Offices of Joseph J. Tock