What are your rights during a police stop in Texas?
If you have an encounter with police officers in Texas, the experience can be frightening—regardless of whether or not you did anything to warrant this visit. You might not know what to say or do, and you could be fearful of immediately being taken to jail.
However, you do have rights during a traffic stop just as you would with any other type of interaction with police officers. If you’re pulled over or stopped by officers in another way, be sure you know these rights according to the laws in the state.
Rights to police questioning
If you’re stopped by an officer for questioning, you might wonder whether or not you even have to answer the questions that you’re asked. You may want to ask the officer if you’re free to leave. If you’re told that you can, then you should calmly walk away without saying anything.
In the event that you’re told that you can’t leave, you can question them by asking why they want you to stay. You have the right to remain silent and can’t be arrested just because you don’t answer questions.
Understand that if you don’t say anything, then it could be suspicious to officers. But this is a right that you have. If the officer wants to search your vehicle or your person, you have the right not to consent. If they decide to conduct the search anyway, you need to make it clear that you don’t agree with the search and that you don’t give permission.
In the event that you’re given a ticket, you need to remain calm while giving the officer your correct information. You also want to sign the ticket since not cooperating in this matter could lead to you being arrested.
Rights in your vehicle
While you’re driving or even if you’re sitting in a parking lot, you could be stopped by an officer. Do you have to comply with police officers if you’re sitting in your personal property? You do need to give the officer your license, registration and other information pertaining to the vehicle.
Make sure you keep your hands on the steering wheel without making any sudden movements. Make it clear that you don’t consent to an officer searching your vehicle. However, if there is anything in plain view, then the officer does have the right to examine that item and then usually has the right to search your vehicle for any other illegal items.
You shouldn’t physically resist a search as this could lead to a charge of resisting arrest. If you’re asked to take a pre-arrest breath test to determine if you’ve been drinking, you do have the right to refuse. However, you should ask about the consequences of refusal, such as having your license suspended.
Avoid playing music when you’re stopped in your vehicle, and avoid reaching for anything without asking for permission from the officer first as they could mistake your movement as a threat.
Rights at the police station
If you’re arrested and taken to the police station, there are still rights that you have as a citizen. You can remain silent, and you have the right to have an attorney present when you’re questioned. You do need to give the officer your name as well as other information that can help in identifying you, but that’s all you have to say.
After stating that you’re going to remain silent or that you want to speak with an attorney, the officer should stop the questioning process. If the officer continues, then your attorney should be made aware as this could result in the case being dismissed.
You should get 3 phone calls while you’re at the police station. One call you make should be to a defense attorney. The other should be to a family member who can contact bail bondsmen or attorneys if you don’t know phone numbers. While on a call, assume that it’s being recorded.
You don’t have to give any explanations for any actions that you were taking part in when you were stopped by the officer. That information is between you and your attorney.
You should also avoid making any decisions or signing anything without getting advice from your attorney, as it could mean spending time in jail. You can also record the actions of the officer while you’re in the field until you get to the police station.
If you feel that you’ve been treated unfairly, you should contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Our team at the Law Office of Matthew D. Sharp is ready and willing to fight for your rights.