Friday, June 10, 2011

Know Your Rights

Tips for everyday life or when taking action and speaking out for justice
Civil Liberties Defense Center –

What to do if you are stopped by the police
There are 3 distinct categories of police interference with a citizen’s liberties: Conversation, Detention and Arrest. It is important to identify your situation so you know your rights, and, remember, anything you say can and will be used against you! Stay calm and in control of your words and actions at all times.

• Mere Conversation - LEVEL 1
Police officers have the same right as any other citizen to approach you and inquire about circumstances of interest. However, absent any reasonable suspicion that you are involved in criminal activity, an officer cannot detain you.
You do not have to provide identification to an officer at this level unless you are in a motor vehicle.
You do not have to answer any questions.
Determine if you are in a Level 1 situation by asking if you are free to leave.

• Detention - LEVEL 2

If an officer reasonably suspects you have been involved in a crime, they may detain you for questioning. You may invoke your 5th amendment rights and remain silent. You must provide identification upon request at this level (name, address, d.o.b.). You do not need to provide your social security number.
Giving a false name is a criminal offense.
You do not have to consent to a search.
However, if the police have probable cause or a warrant your consent is not required.
If the police say they have a warrant, ask to see it.
Police may pat down your clothing if they have a reasonable suspicion that you are carrying a concealed weapon; do not physically resist but make it clear that you do not consent to any further search.
What you choose to say to the police is important—it can be used against you later and can provide the police with probable cause to arrest you.
Don’t run away even if you believe what is happening to you is unreasonable or unlawful; this may lead to your arrest.
Remember officers names and badge numbers and write down everything about the incident as soon as possible.

• Arrest - LEVEL 3

You have the right to remain silent—wait for your attorney before saying anything.
Ask for an attorney immediately upon being taken into custody.
If you refuse to provide a name and address while in custody, you will not be eligible for release or a court appointed attorney in most circumstances.
Within a reasonable time, the police must allow you to make a phone call to your attorney and they may not legally listen to that call—but assume that they will.
Do not talk to fellow arrestees regarding the circumstances of the arrest—you never know who might be listening.
You must be provided adequate medical care while in custody. If you are on medication, inform the jail of that fact immediately and repeatedly.
If you have dietary restrictions for health or religious reasons, the jail may be required to provide you with alternative meals. Inform the jail of your dietary needs as soon as you arrive. If the jail fails to accommodate those needs, begin the grievance process immediately.

What Happens Next?
Take photographs of any injuries right away. Get medical attention and copies of the medical reports.
Either while in custody, or shortly upon your release, you will be required to appear in court for an arraignment hearing.
Plead NOT GUILTY to all charges. Apply for a court appointed attorney if you so choose. You will receive a future court date to appear.
Make contact with your attorney as soon as possible. It is your responsibility to remain in contact with your attorney, this may be frustrating, but will be essential to your defense!
If you remain in custody, you have a right to a jury trial within 60 days in Oregon, or within 30 days in California.
If you choose to go to trial, it may be your responsibility to locate and secure witnesses on your behalf.
If you are found guilty at trial, or elect to plead guilty, you are allowed to delay sentencing at least 48 hours. At the sentencing hearing, you may be ordered to serve jail time, so be prepared to report to jail immediately.

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