Although law enforcement officers are duty-bound to protect the public, they are individual human beings with their own fears, biases and limitations. As a result, it is certainly not unheard of for law enforcement agents to make mistakes when pulling over motorists after suspecting that those motorists may have engaged in unlawful behavior.
When police officers make mistakes, people can get hurt. They can be accused of infractions that they didn’t commit, they can have their legal rights violated and they can even be physically harmed. In the worst-case scenarios, victims of police misconduct can be permanently disabled, affected by post-traumatic stress disorder or can even lose their lives.
Being as prepared as you can be
As a result of the high-stakes nature of a potential mistake, it is critically important that motorists understand both their rights and how to respond when they’re pulled over. Although making this effort cannot guarantee a safe and favorable outcome to a stop, it can help to mitigate the risk of a tragic one. Consider the following:
- Remain calm and respectful – don’t give an officer any excuse to get aggressive
- You have the right to remain silent but you need to articulate that you are choosing to avail yourself of this right – if you stay silent (other than providing your name) but don’t let officers know that your silence is an exercise of your rights, you could face tough consequences
- Don’t resist a search if you have indicated that you don’t consent to one but an officer goes ahead anyway – in the event of an arrest, your lawyer can respond to the officer’s breach of proper conduct
- Do not run. That will only lead to additional charges and complicate your defense.
If you are mistreated during a stop, seek legal guidance regardless of whether you’ve been arrested. Exploring your legal options can help to better ensure that you receive the justice to which you’re entitled.