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Your Rights and the Police

If you are stopped by the police...

* You must show identification if you are stopped while driving or if you are in a place that sells alcoholic beverages. At any other time, you cannot be legally arrested for failing to present identification to a police officer. However, you may be asked to state your name, age, and address.

* Remember, if you are a Lawful Permanent Resident or Resident Alien, you must have your alien registration card with you at all times.

* If stopped while driving, you must show the officer your driver license, vehicle registration, and proof of auto insurance, but you do not have to answer any questions without a lawyer present.

* If you are stopped, you can ask if you are being detained. If not, you are free to go. (However, you should never run from a police officer. It is better to be safe, and to contest the illegal stop later.)

* Do not try to physically resist the police if they try to detain you.

* The police may search your body without your consent for firearms or other dangerous weapons. You should make clear that you do not consent to a full search of your person. (Again, if they ignore you, do not try to resist them physically.)

* Police may search your car, even without a search warrant, if they have "probable cause" to think the car or driver is involved in a crime.

* Generally, police may not search your home without a search warrant. If the police tell you they have a search warrant, ask to see it. Make it clear that you do not consent to a search without a warrant.

* If the police take things from you while searching your home or car, they must give you a receipt for whatever they take.

* If you get a ticket, promptly follow the instructions for payment or appeal the ticket. If you fail to answer the ticket within the time allowed, you might be arrested.

* If the police suspect that you are driving while intoxicated (or under the influence of a controlled substance) and you refuse a breathalyser test, your driver license may be immediately suspended.

* If you are detained by the police, do not explain yourself to the police, or make excuses. If you do, these explanations may be used against you in court! Immediately ask to speak to an attorney, and tell the police you will not answer any questions unless your attorney is present.

* If you are being held for a crime that might cause you to be imprisoned, you have the right to a court-appointed lawyer.

* If you have contact with the police which you think was unjustified or simply want more information about your rights, please contact Farmworker Legal Services.

Information, Not Legal Advice.  We are providing this information as a public service.  We try to make it accurate as of the date noted in the materials.  Sometimes the laws change.  We cannot promise that this information is always up-to-date and correct.

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