What to do if you are stopped or arrested by police

It is important to know your rights if you are stopped by a police or immigration officer or if you are arrested by police. If you are questioned by law enforcement, be polite and respectful. Pa janm manti, diskite, fè jefò ak, or run away.

police car in USA
Photo courtesy of Dave Conner/Wikimedia Commons

Nan Etazini, the police are generally good and want to help you. But you should know your rights. You have rights even if you are not a US citizen. You should know that law enforcement officers may briefly hold and question you if they suspect you were involved in a crime. They might do this even if there are not enough reasons to arrest you.

Your rights if you are stopped in a car or arrested by police while in a car

  • Ou gen dwa pou yo rete silans ak pa reponn tout kesyon.
  • When receiving a citation (a ticket for speeding, pa ekzanp) you must provide your driver’s license, asirans, and vehicle registration if requested.
  • Ofisye a kapab mande w pou nan machin lan. You should do what they ask.
  • Police are not allowed to check the car unless there is “probable cause.”
  • You do not have the right to leave if the officer tells you to stay.
  • A pat down is typically a surface search done over your clothes. It can happen if the officer has a reason to believe there is something suspicious happening, Men, li pa ka pase nan pòch ou. Nan yon rechèch, they have a more thorough method where they might search under your clothes. Ou legalman pèmèt pou refize fè tou de peyi yo.

Your rights if you are arrested by police or taken to a police station

  • If you are arrested by police, you have the right to remain silent and talk to a lawyer.
  • Ou yo gen dwa pou yo fè 3 apèl telefòn yo nan 3 Lè yo vin jwenn arèstasyon.
  • Ou kapab di polis la enfòmasyon debaz sou tèt ou men pa plis jiskaske avoka ou rive.
  • Pa diskite estati imigran ou ak yon moun, men avoka ou.

Your rights if a police officer wants to search your home or car

  • Anfòsman lwa pa te pèmèt pou fè rechèch lakay ou san konsantman ou oswa yon kat blanch. A warrant is a legal document that gives them permission to search. Si ou kite peyi lakay, polis la kapab jwenn kay ou si gen kèk lòt moun consents pou li.
  • Ou ta dwe kite yon ofisye antre lakay ou amwen ke yo gen yon te jistifye.
  • Jistifikasyon an a ta dwe siyen pa yon jij.
  • If an officer insists on entering without a warrant, do not resist. You can say that you do not allow it, Lè sa a imedyatman rele yon avoka.

The Supreme Court only allows a law enforcement officer to enter a house without knocking if they have “a reasonable suspicion”. This means that they think something illegal might be happening. They also think that showing they are there might be dangerous or might allow the suspect to destroy any evidence.

Pou plis enfòmasyon pou ede ou konprann dwa ou, ou kapab read ourknow your rightsinformation. It was prepared in partnership with Church World Services, which offers low-cost legal services to immigrants.

Questions and answers about being detained or arrested by police

Here are some answers to questions you may have about being stopped or arrested.

Mwen gen pou reponn kesyon mande l nan anfòsman lwa?

Ou gen yon konstitisyonèl dwa pou rete silans se konsa, ou pa bezwen pou reponn kesyon. Ou pa gen pou pale ak nenpòt ofisye yo, ni okenn lòt moun. It is a good idea to talk to a lawyer before answering any questions. Di ofisye polis a ou chwazi pou pa reponn. Men, toujou respect ak ploi plis ke nou kapab.

How should I behave if I am stopped in my car?

Try to move slowly and make sure you always keep your hands visible to the officer. Pa o reziste pat yon tonbe ni fouye. Pito yo di, “I do not consent to a search.” Ask the officer if you are free to leave, Si ofisye a menm ki di sa wi, then leave calmly. Sepandan, if the officer says no, you must stay. Pa janm kouri ale bè rout, and keep your hands visible all the time.

E si mwen menm ki pwan swen anpil nan men ofisye lalwa?

Ou gen dwa mande ofisye a pou enfòmasyon l' tankou l' anpil non ak plak. Eseye jwenn temwen e si ou blese pran foto pli vit ke posib. Rele yon avoka oswa biwo pwoteksyon dwa zimen lokal ou a.

Do I have to show my immigration documents if I am arrested by police?

Etranje ki sitwayen Amerken ki 18 ane oswa plis ta dwe pote dokiman yo ansanm ak yo tout tan. If you are undocumented and cannot show US immigration documents, ou ka chwazi pou pa reponn kesyon sou estati ou. These questions might include “Are you a citizen?"oubyen, “Where are you from?” Do not lie about your status, Men yo di olye ke w chwazi pa reponn.

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