Responding to a Police Stop

A significant aura of distrust pervades the environment when local authorities and the public enter into an exchange. On the side of the officer, the necessity of fulfilling his appointed duties, while meeting and resolving the challenges they present, requires a constant alertness and promotes an inherent distrust in public activities. From the public perspective, being stopped or detained is an immediate cause for distress; regardless of factual or spurious existence of an infraction, it is evidenced by the act of detention that they are being accused as such. When stopped by an officer, regardless of personal or extrapersonal wrongfulness, it is important to remember appropriate behaviors that will lead to a quick resolution of the issue in such a manner that will allow for an arbitration of justice in the future.

A police officer is considered a primary responder for issues that pertain to public safety, and I can most assuredly say that, should an officer breach or overstep his bounds, the scene of the incident as it is being committed, is not a highly productive place to press the issue. This is mostly due to the fact that, even should you be correct in your assertions, there is very little at the present moment that can be done for this information to work in your favor. Furthermore, repeatedly affirming your rights as an American citizen will also certainly meet with limited success. The odds are highly favorable that the officer is more aware of your individual rights than you are, and this will likely result in little more than provoking a civil servant while they are attempting to perform his or her duties. However, if there is sufficient evidence that an officer has significantly violated your constitutional rights, you should bring it to your attorney’s attention as soon as possible. This will allow your attorney ample time to conduct a thorough examination of available evidence and build a case that documents the violation of your procedural or constitutional rights.

While the above paragraph explores the less favorable options for behavior when responding to a stop, the following will expand upon acceptable and encouraged responses. Always be cordial and respectful towards an officer. Regardless of your personal perception of innocence, something may have lead the officer to conclude that you have committed an act that legitimizes the stop or detention of your person. Once again, if this is not the case, the best thing that you can do is bring it to your attorney’s attention as soon as possible. Even if the officer is in the wrong, the scene of the stop is not the place for debate. Please allow your attorney to structure a legal argument regarding the officer’s conduct in the appropriate place for such discussion, the courtroom.

The most important thing to remember during a stop is that you are not required to respond to police questioning. While it is highly advisable to comply with police orders, as per the Fifth Amendment, one cannot be compelled to divulge any information that would result in incrimination. This is why after an arrest, but before questioning, an officer is obligated to read the Miranda warning which includes the “right to remain silent”. It is nearly a universally agreed upon fact that it is highly in your favor to exercise this right to its full extent.

In brief summary, should a stop lead to an arrest, do not resist arrest and do not argue with the officer. Attempts to do so will likely further complicate the situation. Simply behave with civility, and refrain from answering any questions until you have seen an attorney.

Written By:
Blumberg & Associates

3600 North 19th Avenue
Phoenix, Arizona 85015
Office: 602-277-6180
Fax: 602-889-9167