Being stopped by the police is a frightening experience. While it’s true that everyone has a different experience when encountering the police, there are definitive ways to increase your chances of having a safe police encounter. When being stopped or pulled over by the police in Texas or anywhere else in the country, follow these ten pieces of advice to ensure a safe police encounter, and a safe return home.
Be Polite, Respectful, and Quiet
This is perhaps one of the most effective ways to make sure your police encounter is safe, calm, and cordial. Regardless if you’re innocent or not, remain polite, respectful, and quiet when interacting with a police officer. If you don’t feel comfortable speaking to them or answering their questions (besides identifying yourself), calmly inform them that you would like to speak to your lawyer first. According to the law, the police officer should respect that request and wait until a lawyer is present.
Get Home Safely
Above all else, the goal is to get home safely. While this may seem vague in nature, it should paint a vivid picture in your mind. What can you do to get home safely? Before saying anything, doing anything, or making any decisions, remember that the main goal is to get home safely—act on that determination.
Do Not Argue With Police
Do not, under any circumstances, argue with the police. If they are wrong or mishandling the situation, either inform them that you would like to speak to your lawyer or comply with their instructions. Anything else may be considered resistance, which may provoke the officer to escalate the situation. As a citizen, you have the right to remain silent until a lawyer is present (besides identifying yourself). Remember that it’s always safer to be silent than be argumentative.
Watch Your Words
Anything you say to an officer can and will be used against you in court. This fact is often overlooked or forgotten during police encounters, and really bites back if you say something wrong. In fact, this even applies to anything you say outside of the police encounter. Absolutely anything you say on social media, to your friends, family, or colleagues about a police encounter can and will be used against you in court—and the police definitely check your social media profiles. It’s best to keep conversations regarding your police encounter between and your lawyer only.
Keep Your Hands Visible
While this goes without saying, it’s extremely important to keep in mind—especially when anxiety enters the picture. During a police encounter, you may feel nervous, anxious, fearful, or a combination of these emotions. Without even thinking, you may feel compelled to put your hands in your pockets—or anywhere else considered threatening to the police officer. To avoid any disasters, always keep in mind to keep your hands visible.
Don’t Make Any Sudden Movements
Regardless of how the police encounter is going, do not make any sudden movements. This doesn’t only go for your hands, but your entire body. During police training, officers are trained to respond quickly to sudden movements. During your police encounter, keep in mind they’re analyzing your body language and overall tension. If you make any sudden movements, they will respond quickly—and it won’t be good.
Do Not Run
This goes without saying. In any police encounter, it is never a good idea to run away from the police. While fear may overcome you and compel you to run, resist the urge at all costs. It’s not worth it, and never ends well.
Don’t Resist Arrest
Echoing number three, never resist arrest during a police encounter. If you believe the police officer is wrong, ask for your lawyer. However, do not resist arrest—even if you’re right. Remember that the goal is to have a safe police encounter, and in order to ensure maximum safety, comply with police at all times and never resist arrest. Once your encounter with the police is over, you have the right to file a formal complaint against the officer—or the jurisdiction—for their mishandling.
Only Talk About Your Police Encounter With a Lawyer
Echoing number four, anything you say can and will be used against you in court. Only share details about your police encounter with your lawyer or attorney; also, ask them for advice on what you can and can’t say in public. Doing so will ensure your safety after the police encounter, and minimize the risk of anything backfiring against you in court.
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Watch Your Emotions and Body Language
While you may not realize that your body is tensing up, the officer is trained to recognize these body language cues. If your jaw is clenched, hands balled into fists, and face beet red, the officer may react accordingly. During a police encounter, always be aware of your body’s position, your breathing pattern, and your overall emotional state. Remain calm, collected, and quiet when interacting with the police officer to ensure you get home safe.
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