While protests are happening all throughout the US and curfews are being enforced, it’s crucial to not only be safe but also be informed. It can be chaotic when mass arrests are happening but in the midst of everything, it is imperative to know your rights when being arrested. Here is a quick guide to help in case you or a loved one ends up getting arrested.
Be respectful but ask questions
The first and most important thing to note if being apprehended is to not resist for everyone’s safety. This is not the time to be on the defensive or make any sudden movements but you still have the right to calmly ask for what reason you are being arrested.
You have the right to remain silent
At any point with your interaction with law enforcement, you have the right to remain silent without the presence of a lawyer. If for any reason the officer asks leading questions or your feel uncomfortable you are able to not say anything and if you do discuss your side of the story with officers, be very careful because anything you say can and will be held against you in court.
You do not have to consent to searches
When you are being questioned, you still have the right to decline your personal belongings being searched. Please keep in mind that they could get a search warrant which could override that but at least in the beginning they will have to respect those rights.
You do not have to comply with requests to delete video
If you are recording the incident or have recorded an incident with law enforcement, and they tell you to delete the footage, know that it is within your right to decline this request. There have been times when police may confiscate your recording device and delete it themselves but if this is of concern, there is an app called the Mobile Justice App created by the ACLU that will take any footage on your phone and store it in the cloud to avoid forced deletion.
You have the right to a lawyer
Even if you cannot afford a lawyer, a public defender can be assigned to you but as these protests are happening, there are many lawyers who are offering to work pro bono so it may be worth looking into.
Overall, if an arrest happens it is important to just remain calm and respectful but also know that your rights should be respected as well.