Whether pulled over on I-75 or approached downtown, it can be nerve-wracking dealing with a police officer. An Ohio resident unfamiliar with their rights may not know when to cooperate, ask questions or stay quiet. These simple misunderstandings may end up leading to an arrest and legal action.
The following guidelines can help Ohio residents understand their role when talking to police, provide the proper information and exercise their rights as a U.S. citizen.
Protect individual rights
Remember the following when stopped by the police:
- Be respectful. Treating the officer with polite respect, even if they are rude or confrontational, can help ease tensions.
- Do not answer any questions. Ohio law does not require anyone to speak with the police without legal counsel. No matter what the officer says, this is a basic right. It might seem beneficial to cooperate and answer seemingly harmless questions, but this assumption is false. If necessary, individuals may request a lawyer.
- Resist police requests: Citizens may refuse all police requests, but should not resist physically under any circumstances. Eventually, an officer may threaten to arrest an individual if they refuse to comply with one of their requests. Though alarming, Ohio law does not punish anyone for an arrest. Request a lawyer until they provide one.
- Police may lie: Police may legally lie during these stops. This does not mean they will, but it does mean that citizens can only rely on their basic rights in these situations.
A basic understanding of one’s rights will go a long way toward protecting them. A simple misunderstanding may have catastrophic legal consequences that may lead to a guilty conviction and imprisonment.
Consult immediately with an attorney
Individuals arrested during a routine traffic stop or otherwise should contact a lawyer familiar with criminal law immediately. An attorney can help advise on when to cooperate with police and when to answer questions. Lawyers familiar with dealing with police can help protect one’s individual rights, as well.