Know Your Rights During A Police Encounter

It's the job of law enforcement officials in Pennsylvania to uphold the law and to protect the citizens they are sworn to serve. This doesn't, however, mean that police officers are above the law or can trounce on an individual citizen's rights in the process.

If you are stopped or questioned by the police, it's important to know that you have rights. At the end of the day, understanding and exercising your rights can mean the difference between walking away and going home or being arrested and going to jail or prison.

While every police encounter is unique and must be evaluated in light of the specific circumstances, in most cases, the following rights apply:

  • Right to remain silent: When making an arrest, a police officer is required to read an individual his or her Miranda rights which infamously include the right to remain silent. What many people don't know is that this right also extends to any police encounter. This means that when a police officer approaches you on the street and asks you a question, you don't have to and often shouldn't, answer his or her questions.
  • Right to deny consent: When conducting a search of a vehicle, residence or person, a police officer must either obtain your consent or a valid search warrant. If one of these conditions isn't met and the police continue to conduct a search and seizure operation, they are violating your Fourth Amendment rights.
  • Right to know or walk away: If a police encounter results in an arrest, you have a right to know why you are being placed under arrest. If an encounter does not result in an arrest, the police cannot detain you without probable cause and you have the right to leave the scene.
  • Right to an attorney: Upon being arrested, you have the right to request and contact an attorney who can provide legal advice and ensure that your rights are respected, protected and upheld.

If you believe that a police officer violated your rights, it's important to take action and contact the Philadelphia law firm of Abramson & Denenberg, P.C. Call a lawyer at our office today for a free initial consultation at 215-531-5011 or get in touch with us online through our contact form.