Police Encounters


So, you’ve been pulled over or otherwise detained by the police. GREAT! (not really). While it is easier said than done, try to remember these tips instead of thinking about how your parents will likely lose it! (since that’s probably going to happen anyway).

When Will You Be Treated As an Adult if You Are Arrested?

When you turn 17 years of age, you are treated as an adult by the criminal justice system. That means you can be arrested, jailed, and prosecuted as an adult. Also, under certain circumstances, a person under 17 years of age may be prosecuted as an adult.

What Happens When You Are Arrested?

If you are arrested for anything other than a minor traffic offense, you may be searched, handcuffed, and taken to the police station for detention and questioning.

What Are Miranda Rights?

If the police want to question you about the offense, they must first advise you of your rights by giving you a Miranda warning. In other words, you do not have to answer any questions, you have the right to have an attorney present during questioning, and if you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed to represent you. If you waive your rights, anything you say can be used against you – so it’s a good idea to talk to an attorney first!

How Long Will I Be In Jail If I’m Arrested?

The police may keep you in jail for up to 24 hours, during which time a prosecuting attorney can file formal charges against you in court. If no charges are filed after 24 hours, you must be released. However, even if the prosecuting attorney does not file charges and you are released from custody, the prosecuting attorney may still file charges at a later time.

What Basic Things Should I Remember If I’m Arrested?

KEEP CALM! This may be hard with red and blue flashing lights impairing your vision, but staying composed is essential to positively navigating a police encounter. Do not argue, resist, run away, or interfere with the officer (even if you think they’re wrong!)

Do I Have To Talk With the Police?

No! You are not required to discuss the case against you or answer any questions. If you do, do not discuss anything until you have been read your Miranda rights. If you choose not to answer questions or make a statement, simply tell police you want to consult an attorney. If you do decide to provide a statement, it can and will likely be used against you at trial.

What Do I Do If the Police Want To Search My Belongings?

It is unlawful for an officer to search you or your belongings based on a feeling, rumor, or hunch. A search must be directly related to the crime you are accused of committing. You do NOT have to consent to any search, including that of your cell phone or other electronics. While police may still seek a warrant for the search, refusing to consent to a search is the best way to preserve your rights.

What Do I Do If Police Want To Search Me?

You do not have to consent to a search of your body. But, if police suspect you have a weapon, they may “pat” you down. Police and school employees are NEVER allowed to strip search you.

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