Many people can go their whole lives with little or no contact with law enforcement. In some cases, when you deal with a police officer, it is because something terrible is happening in your life. You may be the victim of a crime or suspected of committing a crime.
Whether you have never encountered police or you meet them on a daily basis, it is important to know that law enforcement has boundaries, and when they overstep, your rights are in danger. In fact, while many Texas police officers take seriously their job to protect and serve, others may have their own agenda. They may take advantage of you if you are not knowledgeable about your rights and how to protect those rights.
You can say no to police
A police officer wears a badge and carries a gun. This makes an impression and can be intimidating. However, this power does not mean that police can violate your civil rights. One common example of this is the constitutional right that protects you from unreasonable search and seizure. A police officer may not stop you on the street and search you or your vehicle unless the officer has a warrant or under other limited circumstances.
You have the right to say no if an officer asks to search your vehicle or your home without a warrant. Police may phrase their request as a command, but without a warrant or probable cause, the officer needs your permission to search, and you can politely refuse that consent. Other times when you can refuse to do what police say include the following:
- An officer asks you questions beyond your name and identification
- Police ask you to do something that you know is illegal, such as when officers ordered a nurse to do a blood draw from a patient who was unconscious
- Police arrest you and continue to question you after you request to speak with an attorney
- Officers want to listen to private conversations between you and your attorney
- Police ask questions about your immigration status or citizenship
You have the right to ask police if you are free to leave the scene, and if they say yes, you are wise to calmly walk away immediately. If police refuse to release you, you would benefit from remaining silent and obtaining the services of an attorney as soon as possible.