This is an edited (condensed) reprint from the ACLU's guide
In any confrontation with the police, try to remember officers' badge numbers and other details. Procure witnesses, get their phone numbers and names. If you are injured, take photographs of the injuries as soon as possible, but make sure you seek medical attention first. Do not obstruct the police. You can be arrested for it.
Interrogation / Arrest:
- You are at no obligation to answer any questions or even reveal your identity. Keep in mind that this will make you look very suspicious.
- Upon your arrest, do not make any statements regarding the incident and immediately ask for a lawyer.
- Ask to see a lawyer immediately. If you can't pay for a lawyer, you have a right to a free one, and should ask the police how the lawyer can be contacted. Don't say anything without a lawyer.
- Within a reasonable time after your arrest, or booking, you have the right to make a local phone call: to a lawyer, bail bondsman, a relative or any other person. The police may not listen to the call to the lawyer.
- Sometimes you can be released without bail, or have bail lowered. Have your lawyer ask the judge about this possibility. You must be taken before the judge on the next court day after arrest.
- Do not make any decisions in your case until you have talked with a lawyer.
- You never have to consent to a search of your person, house or car. If you do, this allows the cops to use anything they find against you, or even find reason to expand their search. (If they find a pipe on you, it could be reasonable cause to search your car.)
- Police are allowed to pat you down in order to check for weapons. Do not physically resist, but state that you do not consent to any further search.
- In order to search your house, police need either a search warrant signed by a judge or reasonable cause to assume an emergency situation is at hand. (Someone screaming inside the house, smell of narcotics leaves the house, etc.)
- When you are under arrest, the police have the right to search you and the area close by - your car or the room you are in.
If you feel your rights have been violated
, file a written complaint with police department's internal affairs
division or civilian complaint board