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Stopped by the cops? What to do and not do

It should not have to be stated, but all too sadly it does: Your primary goal in any encounter with the police is to survive the experience. With that being said, below are some important steps you can take to minimize any negative encounters stemming from being stopped by New York Police Department officers.

-- Remember that anything you say can and will be presented as evidence against you in any future criminal proceedings that may ensue from the stop.

-- Exercise your Miranda rights to refrain from speaking by telling the police, "I wish to remain silent."

-- Never obstruct or interfere with law enforcement, as you will be subject to arrest.

-- Don't consent to warrantless searches of you, your vehicle or your personal belongings. This can erode your rights later in a courtroom.

New York City's stop and frisk laws are not limitless. Cops may only briefly detain people when a reasonable suspicion is present that a crime is being committed, has been committed or is about to be committed. Accordingly, if stopped and frisked, the following applies:

-- Don't make sudden moves and always let them see your hands.

-- Under NYC laws, you do not have to carry or produce ID when cops ask for it. However, if you wind up arrested and don't offer proof of identity, you can be detained until police identify you.

-- You may ask if you are free to leave or are under arrest.

-- Running away and talking back to police usually does not end without your arrest (at best).

-- If you are taken into custody, only give your name and address. Never explain, lie or offer excuses. Ask to speak to a criminal defense attorney.

-- Remember that any calls you are permitted to make will likely be monitored and your words recorded. Say nothing about your alleged crime.

At some point, you and your defense attorney can confer privately and craft the best defense for your alleged crimes.

Source: New York Civil Liberties Union, "What To Do If You’re Stopped By The Police," accessed Oct. 15, 2015

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Robert D. DiDio
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