IT COULD HAPPEN TO YOU
Where are you coming from?
Where are you going to?
Where do you live?
Do you have an identity card?
These are very simple questions, which can be easily answered by almost everyone. But when a police officer is involved, it can cause a lot of problem both for the officer and YOU. Most of the time, there is reason for the officer to question you even if it may not seem so at the time. The officer may be investigating a complaint in the neighborhood, or following up on a radio call concerning a crime committed in the area. For one reason or the other, you may be the individual that the police suspect. You may have knowledge that will help in the investigation, or the officer may think that you are experiencing some kind of trouble.
Sometimes, the manner in which the police questions you may involve not respecting YOUR RIGHTS. Sometimes, you may over react to the questions and create a more serious situation. We will attempt to explain your rights, what to remember, and what to expect when an officer starts asking you a lot of questions… it could save you from answering a lot more unnecessarily.
If you are driving a vehicle, the police can ask you to stop at any time. The best thing to do in this situation is to park and follow the direction of the officer. You will probably to be asked to produce your driver’s licence and particulars of the vehicle. This you must do, if asked. If you are stopped at night, turn on your interior light and show the officer that nothing is wrong. It is best to nothing, which may give reason to search further. Having your light on and keeping your hand on the steering-wheel will usually put the officer’s mind at ease.
Chances are that the officer might ask you to go if you have all your papers. The officer might say that you have violated traffic rules, if your papers are not correct or ask you to come out of your car for search duty. Remember that he or she in all these activities must respect your right of course, you may explain at any point in this encounter, but you should limit your comments. Be careful of how to make your points. A simple traffic violation may start causing you a fortune in fines for other violations. If you think that you have not violated any traffic rule then carry your protest to the superior officer or the High Court.
IF YOU ARE STOPPED BY THE POLICE ON THE STREET
Most of the problems you may encounter with the police can be avoided. Remember, they think they have reason (probable cause) to stop you and ask questions.
At this time, you should stop, collect your thoughts and remain calm. Whether or not you are arrested, may just depend on how calm and prepared you are at this time. There are many factors that the police may take into consideration when observing you. Every situation is different and the officer may consider the following factors:
• When you are running and a crime has been reported in the area.
• If you are hanging around with people under police investigation.
• You are near an area where crime has just been reported
• You are in an area which the police believe to be abandoned or unoccupied
• You are acting in a manner, which appear to be suspicious. The possession of stolen property.
• Someone else has identified you to the police
• When you use derogatory or offensive language… you may be saying the right thing at the wrong time.
• While these things are taken into consideration when questioning you, the police
MUST STILL RESPECT YOUR RIGHTS TO NOT ANSWER QUESTIONS THAT SOUND ACCUSATORY.
IF THE POLICE COMES KNOCKING AT YOUR DOOR
If the police knocks at your door, you do not have to let them in unless there is a signed warrant. Always ask to see the warrant. If it is proper on its face, you must step aside and let them into your house. If it is arrest warrant, look at the name on the warrant to make certain they have the right person. If it is a search warrant, make sure the address is correct and what is specifically listed on the WARRANT to be searched for in your house. If the police do not have a warrant, you do not have let them in unless they insist. Perhaps, you can settle this matter at the door. If they do insist, over your objections, then be careful to:
• First, ask for a police identity card
• Second, ask the purpose of entering your house
• Third, let them in only after they insist
• Fourth, if you object, make sure that the police know that you do not consent to any search of your house.
• Fifth, remember identity card numbers, officer’s face and the time of the day. Write this information down.
The police are not required to give you a receipt for property they intend to book as evidence such as stolen goods, guns etc. However, when property is taken from your home, ask the police for a receipt. The police may also search without a warrant whenever arresting an individual. They may search the individual under arrest, the area of arrest, and the room where the arrest were made if inside the home. They may also search after consent is given, or if there an emergency (for example, someone screaming for help inside your house), or when chasing you or someone else into your home.