WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU ENCOUNTER LAW ENFORCEMENT
Although police officers swear to serve and protect, they seem to forget that they are civil servants and work for us. Between the recent death of Eric Gardner and countless accounts of less than positive police interaction between law enforcement and people of color (remember #MyNYPD?) it is important for everyone to know their inherent rights when stopped by an officer. Being in the know can serve as a deterrent to illegal police practices and are vital if your case should ever make it to court to show record that you did not consent to certain lines of questioning, searches and did not engage in illegal activity prior to police interaction and to ensure that a reasonable response is given (i.e. they don't need to search your car for speeding) when you are approached by the police. It could be the difference between life and death.
If government agents question you, it is important to understand your rights. You should be careful about what you say when approached by federal, state or local law enforcement officials. If you give answers, they can be used against you in a criminal, immigration, or civil case.
Over the past two years, the FBI, for example, has significantly increased its use of “voluntary” interviews – especially within specific racial, ethnic, and religious communities – often encouraging interviewees to serve as informants in their communities.
The ACLU's Know Your Rights booklet provides effective and useful guidance in a user-friendly question and answer format. The booklet addresses what rights you have when you are stopped, questioned, arrested, or searched by federal, state or local law enforcement officers. This booklet is for citizens and non-citizens with extra information for non-citizens in a separate section. Another section covers what can happen to you at airports and other points of entry into the United States. The last section discusses concerns you may have related to your charitable contributions and religious or political beliefs. The booklet tells you about your basic rights. It is not a substitute for legal advice. You should contact an attorney if you have been arrested or believe that your rights have been violated.
This free booklet is available in English, Spanish, French, Arabic, Urdu, and Farsi. Booklets in these languages are available for download below
Download in alternate languages here.