What Are Your Rights When Stopped?
Your rights when stopped by the police can vary based on whether you are in your vehicle or walking:
If Stopped in Your Car
Suppose police stop you while in your car. You have specific rights. These include:
- Police generally must have probable cause – You have the right to ask why you have been stopped. If law enforcement does not have probable cause to believe you are intoxicated, in violation of traffic laws, or have otherwise broken the law, they do not have a right to stop your vehicle.
- You have the right to remain silent – You are under no legal obligation to answer any of the law enforcement officer’s questions. You do not need to answer if they ask you how much you have had to drink, where you are traveling from, or where you are going. If you do answer them, you might give the police the probable cause they need to arrest you.
- You have the right to refuse a field sobriety test – No law in Hawaii states you must take a field sobriety test. This might include the horizontal gaze nystagmus, the one-leg stand, or the walk-and-turn test. Since they are designed for you to fail, it may be in your best interests to refuse a field sobriety test, even if you have had nothing to drink that day. Understand, however, that refusing to submit to the Fields (as they are referred), can mean you face a 2-year driving license suspension from the Administrative Driver’s License Revocation Office (ADLRO). The ADLRO is a separate administrative agency that handles driver’s license suspension.
- You have the right to a criminal defense attorney – Specifically tell the police that you want a lawyer. This will stop the police from interrogating you. If they continue asking questions, then you may have a motion to suppress. Your Hawaii criminal lawyer will be ready to analyze the details of your case, arrange bail if you are arrested, and begin working on your defense strategy.
If Stopped on Foot
If the police stop you on foot, you still have certain rights. Though they may differ from the ones you have when stopped by the police in a vehicle, it is essential to understand your rights so you can remain cognizant if the police take advantage of you or violate your rights.
If you are stopped on foot by law enforcement, you have the right to:
- Walk away from police if they do not have probable cause to make an arrest or conduct a stop and frisk
- Ask the police if you can leave the scene. “Am I under arrest? Am I being detained? Am I free to leave?” If you are not being arrested or detained, then you are free to leave without further discussion.
- Invoke your right to remain silent
- Take pictures and video of law enforcement officials in the state of Hawaii as long as you are not interfering with their responsibilities as peace officers.
- Record police interactions that you are not involved with as long as you do not interfere with law enforcement
- Retain possession of videos and pictures without sound, even if the police demand you relinquish your camera or smartphone without a warrant
- Just remember, however, that all Hawaii police have body cameras that record the entire interaction. If they fail to record, that may be a defense motion for you.
What Are Your Responsibilities?
If the police stop you, there are specific steps you can take to protect yourself, even if you believe your rights are being violated. These include:
- Keeping your hands where law enforcement officials can see them
- Never give false information or lie to the police. This is another crime independent of any charge they are investigating
- Remaining calm
- Never obstructing officers or resisting arrest
- Tell the police that you are going to exercise your right to remain silent
- Ask for a criminal defense lawyer immediately
- Never signing anything, such as a written confession, or permission to search your phone.
- Never giving explanations or excuses for the incident in question
What if the Police Violate Your Rights?
If you believe your rights have been violated after being stopped by police, protect yourself by:
- Gathering the contact information of any witnesses to your arrest
- Writing down everything you can remember as soon as possible after the incident
- Jotting down police officer patrol car and badge numbers
- Taking photos of any injuries you sustained
- Obtaining immediate medical attention
- Filing a formal complaint with the civilian complaint board or the Hawaii Internal Affairs Office
- Contacting a criminal defense attorney in Honolulu to discuss the next steps
Contact a Criminal Defense Lawyer in Hawaii for Help Today
Being stopped or questioned by police could significantly impact your life if your interactions ultimately lead to criminal charges. When you understand your rights, you can protect yourself and your future. That does not necessarily mean you will not be charged.
However, when you have an experienced Hawaii criminal defense lawyer advocating for you, you can craft a powerful defense strategy and avoid the harsh penalties of a conviction. Contact Michael Fayard, Criminal Defense Attorney, for a confidential consultation today. You can reach us through our secure contact form or by phone at (808) 445-6708 to schedule your defense evaluation today.