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What to know if a police officer stops you

For someone with a Minnesota criminal charge, I often find that the most crucial part of the case happened before the defendant had a St. Paul Criminal Defense Lawyer. From a DWI to drug possession, the moment that the police officer stops you is often crucial to determine whether you will be charged with a crime and what your defenses might be if you are charged. So, here are a few things to know if you are stopped by a police officer:

Be Polite

Regardless of the encounter or circumstances, no situation is improved by resisting the police officer or acting aggressively. If you are concerned that the police officer is acting inappropriately or are unsure if you have the right to refuse something, state your concerns politely, but listen to the police officer and follow their instructions. If the police does violate your rights, a Minnesota Criminal Defense Attorney can raise that challenge later to help your case.

Avoid Incriminating Statements

If questioned by the police (e.g., do you have any drugs in the trunk?) it is often best to avoid giving the police evidence to make their job easier. However, don’t lie and don’t violation Rule #1 (be polite). So, it’s an awkward tension to resolve, but usually statements such as, I’d like to talk to a lawyer if you’re going to ask me about that, or remaining silent might be your best options.

Avoid Consenting to Searches

You typically can refuse to consent to a search from the police. If the police ask if they can search something, it might be your best option to say that you do not consent to a search, but will allow one if they are legally entitled to search. Often, requiring the police to get a search warrant or claim an exception to the search warrant requirement can limit the searches and help your chances if you are charged with a crime.

Get a Criminal Defense Lawyer

The main rule, and not just because I am a lawyer, is to get an attorney as soon as you can. This can start when the police first approach you: if they ask about criminal activity, ask if you can have a moment to contact a St. Paul Criminal Defense Lawyer. If they won’t allow it immediately, ask when you can contact one, and refuse to provide any statements until you can contact a lawyer.

Each encounter is different, so you’ll have to use your best judgment. And, as always, the best defense is to not engage in criminal activity. But, sometimes a police encounter can be unavoidable. If you are facing a DWI, drug charge, or other Minnesota crime, call St. Paul Criminal Defense Lawyer Eric Rice for a free consultation at (651) 998-9660.