Whether pulled over while driving or approached on the street, interactions with police officers are tense affairs. When police stop an individual, they do so out of a concern for safety and may try to intimidate suspects into revealing incriminating information.
Understanding one’s rights as an American citizen can help Georgia residents navigate these tricky situations without incriminating oneself or giving up certain rights.
Guidelines for police interactions
The following guidelines can help Georgia residents engage with police safely and respectfully while preserving their rights and establishing a basic legal defense:
- Remain silent. Georgia is one of the few states in America that maintains “stop and identify” laws. If police suspect a person of a crime, they can lawfully order them to identify themselves. However, Georgians can stop providing information at this point and remain silent for the duration. Stating that one intends to stay silent can help, as well.
- Refuse a search. Georgians can refuse to allow police to search their person, property or vehicle. Make sure to say, “I do not consent to a search.”
- Do not argue. Police can lie during these stops. They may say offensive, provocative or inflammatory things to get a response from their suspects. No matter what, do not argue, run from, interfere or resist police in any way.
- Ask to leave. Georgians can ask to leave at any point. If granted, do so calmly and directly.
- Ask for a lawyer. Citizens can also ask if police are making an arrest. Citizens should not panic if an officer puts handcuffs on them. Comply with the officer and ask for a lawyer. Keep doing so until granted one.
- Record everything. It can be vital in a court case to have evidence of an arrest, even for innocent people. Record names, badge numbers, car numbers, and any other detail that stands out.
- Report it. Citizens who believe that police violated their rights should file a complaint with a civilian oversight committee or internal affairs department.
Secure legal representation
All American citizens have the right to legal representation, as well. Police departments can provide the services of a lawyer upon request. A local attorney familiar with Georgia police can help ask the proper questions and provide only the necessary information.