We live in a world that is increasingly harsh on those who are accused — rightfully or wrongfully — of criminal actions.
If you’re the parent of a teenager or a young adult, it’s extremely important to make sure that they fully understand how to conduct themselves when interacting with the police. Criminal cases can be won or lost before charges are even filed based solely on what a defendant says and does when confronted by the authorities.
Basic legal rights every young person should know
For their safety, you want to stress to your child that they need to always remain calm during interactions with the police. Even if they’re inwardly shaking or seething, the smartest thing they can do is to keep their hands in plain view, stay still, follow orders and understand the following:
- You have the right to remain silent. You do not have to wait for the police to arrest you or inform you of those rights (and they will go as long as possible before doing either because it’s to their advantage to get you talking). Provide your name if you are asked, but nothing further.
- Invoke your right to remain silent out loud. Simply remaining silent isn’t enough to protect your rights. If the police continue to ask questions about where you’ve been, what you are doing, why you are where you are or why you have something, calmly repeat the statement that you are exercising your right to remain silent.
- If the police ask to search your person, possessions or vehicle, say, “Officer, I do not give my consent for a search.” If the officer proceeds with the search anyhow, do not resist or try to stop them. You have said what’s necessary to preserve your rights, and that could be enough to get evidence thrown out of court, later.
- Never try to explain yourself or talk yourself out of an arrest. No matter how panicked you may feel, explanations will only help the police convict you. Even if you’re innocent, your words can be twisted against you.
Finally, remember this: You don’t have to be your own advocate against the police when you’re facing criminal charges — and you shouldn’t try. Continue to assert your right to remain silent, and call a Raleigh criminal defense attorney immediately.