Getting pulled over by a police officer can be nerve-wracking. Regardless of where the police stop happens or what the potential offense could be, this is not something that anybody wants to experience. However, you do have rights when you are pulled over by law enforcement officials in Pennsylvania. Here, we want to go over the main rights that you need to be aware of before you are ever stopped by police.
Your Rights at a Traffic Stop in Pennsylvania
Even though you may be nervous after getting pulled over, the following are some points that we absolutely want you to remember at any traffic stop:
1. You have the right to remain silent
You have probably seen enough TV shows and movies to know that you have the right to remain silent when being questioned by law enforcement officers. Aside from providing basic information such as your license, registration, and insurance details, it is better for you to remain quiet. However, even though you have the right not to speak about what you may or may not have done, you need to remain polite. There is no need to get loud or scream profanities at the police.
2. You should get out of the vehicle if the officer asks you to do so
If the police officer asks you to step out of your vehicle, you should do so. Failing to leave the vehicle could give the officer a reason to believe that you are an immediate threat to their safety. If you are labeled as a threat, the officer is going to be able to search you without your consent. During this search, anything suspicious that the officer finds will trigger a full-blown investigation and search of your vehicle. It is best to simply get out of your car when they ask.
3. You have the right to refuse a search
You do have the right to refuse a search. Individuals often say yes to searches even if they know that they have illegal substances on their person or in their vehicle. Always say no to a search if the officer asks. This does not mean that they will not find a way to search your vehicle or your person, but you should still say no.
4. You have the right to leave if you are not being arrested
If you have been stopped by the police officer and have not been placed under arrest, ask the officer if you are free to leave. If they say you are free to go, take your ticket or citation and go on your way. If the officer says that you are not free to leave, ask them why they are detaining you. If they do not have a reason related to the law for why you are being held, then you are being illegally detained. This does not mean you should just leave, but you should start taking notes or recording the incident.
5. You have the right to an attorney
If you have been placed under arrest, you do have the right to an attorney. After you have clearly been placed under arrest, the only thing you need to say to the police officer is that you would like to speak to an attorney as soon as possible. Now, this does not mean that attorney is going to see you in the jail cell right away. However, by asking for an attorney, you are exercising your rights and shutting down any communication with law enforcement officers or prosecutors without your attorney present.