Charlotte Criminal Lawyer Brad Smith answers the question: “Am I allowed to videotape an interaction with police? Can they make me stop filming?”
One of the many duties of the police is to make routine stops. This, among other reasons, is why an officer can sometimes pull you over. Getting stopped by the police should not be an alarming experience, but sometimes it can escalate into something else.
It is good to know that you can avoid unpleasant experiences when stopped by the police, especially when you have not broken any laws. If you are not entirely aware of your basic rights, this article addresses the rights you have under the Constitution when you interact with the police in the United States.
Possible Reasons for Getting Stopped
Apart from routine stops, police officers would have a judicious suspicion that you have violated a particular law if they have to stop you. Under this condition, they could conduct a search on you or your vehicle if they have probable cause (sighting drugs or possible alcohol). Even such a search has its limitations legally, and not every civilian understands them. If you are pulled over while driving it is essential for you to remain calm. If you are driving, it is best to pull over as soon as it is safe and be sure that you are not obstructing traffic.
Know Your Constitutional Rights
With the first amendment, you have the right to object calmly as you have freedom of speech. The first amendment also grants you rights to record and document your interactions with the police. This means that you can take pictures and videos of the police while they are carrying out their official duties in public. Federal courts in the United States have recognized the people’s rights to record the police.
Moreover, since police officers may not go through your mobile devices without a warrant, you may refuse an officer who wants to assess or delete what you documented. All these can be done as long as you are not interfering with the police while they are carrying out their tasks and duties.
The Fourth Amendment is also important to note as it is designed to protect you from unnecessary search and confiscation. In situations where you feel that there is no probable cause for a search operation, you may decide not to agree to a search on you or your vehicle. If the police suspect you have a weapon, they may pat down your clothing. Vocalizing your lack of consent during a search can help you maintain your rights in future legal proceedings.
Through the Fifth Amendment, you have the right to be and remain silent. This amendment is also known as the Miranda rights. Once stopped by the police, you are not bound to answer any questions directed to you by the police. If you choose to implement the Fifth Amendment, it is always best to say so out loud from the start. Sometimes, it is reasonable to supply answers if keeping quiet might obstruct the duties of the officers, or generally to avoid escalation.
Have You Been Harmed or Mistreated by the Police? Contact our Office Today
There are situations in which you might be unclear of which rights to exercise. If you think one or more of your rights have been violated, or you have been harmed during a routine police stop, get a phone, video or in-person consultation by calling at (704) 370-2828 to speak with our detail-oriented and well-versed lawyers with offices in Charlotte, Lake Norman, and Monroe, please contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC today or find additional resources here.
The criminal defense attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC make it their mission to zealously defend their clients on a wide range of criminal matters at both the state and federal levels. These matters may include any charge from traffic offenses; DWI/DUI; drug charges (from simple possession to possession with intent to distribute and trafficking); gun permit denials; weapons offenses; and property crimes (larceny, breaking and entering, robbery, fraud, embezzlement, white collar offenses); to sexually related offenses (indecent exposure; sexual assault, crimes against nature, removal from sex offender registry); and violent crimes (domestic violence; assault; manslaughter; homicide, murder). Other legal issues that Arnold & Smith, PLLC criminal clients may be facing include restraining orders, restraining order and probation violations, expungements; appeals; and immigration issues related to criminal charges. Our criminal defense attorneys are passionate about ensuring that individuals empower themselves by being informed about their constitutional rights, and stand at the ready to fight in the defense of those facing criminal charges.
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