Know Your Rights

If Police Stop You For Questioning do the following:

  1. Remain calm as possible, and make sure that anyone who is with you also remains calm.  If you become angry or excited, you will make it much more likely that you will be arrested.
  2. Be aware of your Miranda rights, as set forth above.  You should remain silent if you are the subject of a criminal investigation. If you are arrested, tell the police that you wish to speak to a lawyer, and do not say anything else. You have the right to remain silent and you cannot be punished for exercising your right and refusing to answer questions. If you chose to remain silent, let the officer know by saying so, in an audible, calm voice. Each state has different laws, and those laws are subject to change frequently.  In some states, you must give your name if asked to identify yourself.
  3. Don’t run.
  4. Don’t argue with police, or you may be charged with Disorderly Conduct or another crime.
  5. Don’t Resist Arrest or Obstruct the police.  Doing so may result in your arrest, injury or death even if you are innocent or police are violating your rights. 
  6. Keep your hands where police can see them.
  7. Ask the police if you are free to leave. If the officer says yes, quietly leave. 
  8. If you are under arrest, you have a right to know why, but do not argue with the police if they refuse to give a reason for your arrest.
  9. Do not lie or give false documents.  Lying to a federal agent is actually a crime punishable by imprisonment.

If  You Are Stopped In Your Car

  1. Stop the car in a safe place as quickly as possible.
  2. Turn the vehicle off.
  3. Open the window part way and place both hands on the steering wheel.
  4. Do not make any sudden movements.
  5. If it is night time, turn on the light inside the car prior to stopping.
  6. Upon request, show police your driver’s license, registration and proof of insurance.  If the police ask you for identification, ask them if you may get it, and tell them where it is before reaching for it. 
  7. If the police are rude or abusive toward you, remain calm.  You will be able to address their behavior later, with the assistance of a lawyer. 
  8. Be aware that if you are in a car that is stolen, there is a presumption under New York State Law that everyone in the stolen car possesses it, and can be arrested.
  9. There is also a presumption under New York State Law that everyone in the car possesses any drugs or weapons found in the car.  

Searches & Frisks

You do not have to consent to a search of yourself or your belongings, but police may frisk, or pat down your clothing if they believe that you may have a weapon. You have the right to refuse to consent to any search, but you should not resist the police.  Resisting the police may lead to criminal charges against you.  These charges may include, but are not limited to Obstruction of Governmental Administration, Resisting Arrest, Disorderly Conduct,  and Assault.  The New York Civil Liberties Union has played a major role in the effort to end stop and frisk without probable cause or reasonable suspicion.  If you feel that your rights have been violated, contact us and let our stop and frisk lawyers and let us explore whether you may have a legal remedy.   

If you are in your home, the police may ask to enter, and if you consent to let them in, you may waive (give up) your rights against unreasonable search and seizure.  If they have a Search Warrant, they are authorized to enter your home.  Do not resist the police.  You may argue the legality of the search or arrest with the assistance of a lawyer at a later date.  If a law enforcement officer asks to look inside your car, you may refuse to consent to the search. Nevertheless, the officer may still search your car without your consent.  You should not try to physically prevent them from doing so.  Remain calm, and contact an attorney.

If  You Are Questioned About Your Immigration Status

  1. You have the right to remain silent if you are asked about your immigration status. You are not required to answer questions about where you were born, how you entered the United States, or whether you are a U.S. citizen.  Please be aware that different rules apply at international borders and airports, and for people who possess certain visas, (this may include tourists and people who are in the United States for business.
  2. If you are not a citizen of the United States and an immigration agent asks you for your immigration documents, you are required to give them to the agent if you have them with you. Adults (persons over 18 years of age) should always carry their immigration documents. Do not lie about your citizenship status or provide fake documents to law enforcement.

Mayo Bartlett has the experience and dedication that  you or your loved one needs on their side when facing these serious charges.  He is a former Westchester County prosecutor who served more than 10 years in the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office in White Plains New York.  He has also been a criminal defense attorney since 2003, and he has a thorough understanding of police procedure from years spent working with officers and detectives in White Plains and throughout Westchester County, New York City and the Hudson Valley.  He has handled thousands of criminal cases, DWI cases and has successfully reduced the many violent felony charges to misdemeanors, or had them dismissed entirely.  He has obtained a verdict of not guilty for a variety of violent charges that would have resulted in sentences of decades, and sometimes life in prison.  If you have been arrested our search and seizure lawyers will thoroughly review your case to determine if your constitutional rights have been violated.

In addition to his courtroom work, Mayo Bartlett spends much of his time in schools, teaching children how to properly interact with law enforcement.  He has served as an instructor, as well as a moderator for continuing legal education in Westchester County as well as in New York City.  He also is a member of the legal panel on Richard French Live which airs on Wednesdays on WRNN.  The show is taped live everyWednesday from 6:00 pm to 7:00 p.m. and airs throughout New York, Connecticut and New Jersey, including the five boroughs of New York City, Boston, Philadelphia, the Washington DC Metro Area, Dallas, Houston, San Fransisco and Los Angeles.

It is essential that you know your rights, and what is expected of you, and the police, before you have an encounter with them.The show is taped live every Wednesday from 6:00 pm to 7:00 p.m. and airs throughout New York, Connecticut and New Jersey, including the five boroughs of New York City, Boston, Philadelphia, the Washington DC Metro Area, Dallas, Houston, San Fransisco and Los Angeles.

This is general information, and it is not intended to, nor can it possibly, be used in every situation.  Please be aware that state laws may vary, and there are different rules at checkpoints, and at borders when entering the United States (this includes airports). Use your best judgement while considering what steps to take during police encounters.

If you or a loved one has been stopped by the police, or if you believe that your rights have been violated, contact us.  Please follow our Message of the Day for updates regarding our practice and the legal profession. 

Law Offices of Mayo Bartlett, PLLC
Westchester Financial Center 
50 Main Street
Suite 1000
White Plains, New York 10606

Phone: 914-224-3086
Fax: 914-468-6333
Email: mgb@mayobartlett.com

We are available 24 hours for emergencies.

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