Your Rights on the Street

ON THE STREET DEFINED

When we say “on the street” we mean standing, walking or sitting in public areas. Public Areas are areas that belong to the community, state or nation. They are areas that are open and available for all to use, share and enjoy.

THE GENERAL LAW

  • You have the right to walk freely in Public Areas without being detained.

  • You have the right to stand or sit in certain public areas with some limitations. For Example, you cannot stand around or loiter in an area for improper purposes such as selling or buying drugs or prostitution.

  • You cannot enter onto private property or privately secured property without

  • You cannot display disorderly or dangerous behavior while in Public Areas

  • You must obey any signs which tell you how to conduct yourself in the Public Area. Those signs include “No Loitering”, “No Trespassing”, etc.

  • Police have the right to ask you questions about what you are doing and other general type questions. If the officer has a reasonable suspicion that you are committing a crime, he can ask you to identify yourself

INTERACTION WITH POLICE ON THE STREET

A police officer has the right to stop you on the street and ask you questions. If he does, he may just be a friendly person or he may be looking for evidence that you did something wrong. Police are not going to tell you, but you are not required to identify yourself or answer questions. You are also free to leave at any time during the questioning. This is true unless the officer has a reasonable suspicion that you are involved in criminal activity. Sometimes he gets that suspicion based upon your answers to his questions. This is why it is important that you are very careful in what you say to a police officer. If he has a reasonable suspicion, then he can detain you.Police must have reasonable suspicion that you are involved in criminal activity in order to detain you. Reasonable suspicion means that a Police Officer has to have a real and reasonable belief that you are involved in criminal activity. If he has a reasonable suspicion, he can keep you at the scene and you are not free to leave. Once you are detained then the officer can ask you further questions. You are never required to answer questions about where you have been, where you are going, what you have done or what you are doing. You should be aware that certain states, however, require that you “stop and identify” which means that you must provide information which confirms your identity such as name, address, date of birth and social security number. Once you have been detained, a police officer may conduct a pat down search to ensure that you are not carrying any weapons. This pat down should be limited to patting the outside of your clothing. If an item is felt that could possibly be a weapon, he has the right to remove it or ask you to remove it. If an officer tries to search your purse, your backpack, or any other separately secured item, let him know that you do not consent to a In order to arrest you, an officer must have Probable Cause. Probable Cause is more than just a reasonable suspicion. It means that there is a reasonable ground to suspect that you have committed or are committing a crime. Ordinarily, a police officer will announce that you are under arrest. If you are told that you are under arrest, you cannot resist or argue with the officer. Sometimes they will not announce it and will just proceed to place you into custody. You must submit to whatever the officer says to do. If you do not, he can charge you with Resisting Arrest. Once you are under arrest, you are not free to leave and you will be taken into police custody. This may involve being handcuffed. You may be asked questions about the crime that they suspect or any other subject. Remember that anything you say WILL BE USED AGAINST YOU. You are not required to answer questions and you must let police know that you will not answer questions without a lawyer. When arrested, police will use many tactics to get you to talk. They will tell you that if you talk to them, they will help you. This is never true!! The law allows police to use tactics which trick you into giving information.

WHAT THEY CAN LEGALLY ASK YOU TO DO

STOP you “on the street”

  • If an officer sees you committing a crime, he can stop, detain and arrest you

  • If the Officer has a reasonable suspicion or probable cause that you are doing something wrong.

  • If you are violating a law such as hanging out in a “no loitering” area

  • To investigate a crime that has already happened, especially if you fit the description of a person that has been reported to the police you can be stopped QUESTION you “on the street”

  • Police can question you about anything. Just remember that you do not need to answer their questions and you have the right to remain silent.

  • If you are in a State that requires you to “stop and identify” when detained, then you must provide certain identity information. Never anything beyond identity.DETAIN you “on the street”

  • If police have reasonable suspicion that you are involved in criminal activity

  • If there is reasonable suspicion, police can hold you for further questioning. At this point you are not free to leave.PAT DOWN/SEARCH you “on the street”

  • If detained for reasonable suspicion, an officer can conduct a “pat down” search of your outer clothing. This search is only for the officer’s safety and to determine if you have any weapons.

  • Officers can conduct a full search once an arrest is made. This includes a search of all of your pockets, handbags, book bags and backpacks. ARREST you “on the street”

  • If an Officer has probable cause, he can arrest you. Probable Cause is more than just suspicion, there must be some evidence that you committed a crime.

  • If arrested, you must go with the police. If you resist or argue you can be charged with Resisting ArrestHOW YOU SHOULD HANDLE THIS SCENARIOSTOP

  • If stopped, remain calm. Do not display anger as this will only increase the chance for a bad confrontation.

  • Ask if you are being stopped, questioned or detained for any specific reason.

  • Ask if you are free to leave, If so then do so.

  • If questioned by officer, you may greet him.

  • Ask the following: “is there a specific reason why I am being stopped? Then Ask “Am I free to Leave?”

  • In response to police questions say the following: “I don’t want to answer any questions” then SHUT UP!QUESTION

  • Remember that you must say as little as possible. Do not have a conversation with the officer. Every time you speak, it gives the officer an opportunity to say that you said something incriminating.

  • If you are detained, remain calm. Remember that if you do anything that can be considered disorderly conduct, you will give the police Probable Cause to arrest you. Do Not Raise your voice, Do not gesture wildly, Do not use foul Language

  • If you are being patted down, obey the officers instructions as to where and how to stand. Do not draw back from the pat down.

  • If the officer tries to search your personal items prior to arrest or if he asks you to consent, say the following: “I cannot consent to letting you search my backpack, suitcase, pocket, etc.”

  • If you are placed under arrest, do not resist or argue with the officer. If you do, you may be charged with resisting arrest. Remember that the time to challenge an improper arrest is not on the street, it is in the Courts.

  • Do Not Speak other than to say the following: “I don’t want to answer any questions until I speak to an attorney.”DETAINPAT DOWN/SEARCHARREST