IF THE POLICE COME TO YOUR HOME 4. Sometimes you can be released without bail or have bail lowered.
Ask the judge about it. You must be taken before the judge on the
RIGHTS & RESPONSIBILITIES next court day after arrest.
1. If the police knock and ask to enter your home, you do not have 5. Do not make any decisions in your case until you have talked
to admit them unless they have a warrant signed by a judge. Make with a lawyer.
it clear that you do not consent to a search.
2. Some emergency situations (like when a person is screaming for
help inside or when the police are chasing someone) permit of- 1. So long as criminal charges are pending against you, follow your
ﬁcers to enter and brieﬂy search your home without a warrant. defense lawyer’s or public defender’s advice.
3. If you are arrested, the police can search you and the area close by.
If you are in a building, that usually means just the room you are THIS IS NOT COMPLETE ADVICE.
in. BE SURE TO CONSULT A LAWYER!
IMPORTANT TELEPHONE NUMBERS
1. If the police say that they have a search warrant, ask to see it.
Criminal Defense Lawyers
2. Check to see that your speciﬁc address is listed and note the • Allegheny County Public Defender Oﬃce: 412-350-2401
speciﬁc areas of your home listed. • Allegheny County Bar Association, Lawyer Referral Service
(private defense lawyers): 412-261-0518
3. If the police insist on coming in without a warrant, try to get
their names and badge numbers, and why they want to come in. Police, Prosecutors, and Jail
Otherwise, stay out of the way. • Pittsburgh Police Department, Chief ’s Oﬃce: 412-323-7800
• Allegheny County District Attorney’s Oﬃce: 412-350-4400
4. If the police have an arrest warrant, make sure that it is your • Allegheny County Jail: 412-350-2000
name on the paper.
Complaints About Police Misconduct
• Citizen’s Police Review Board: 412-765-8023
IF YOU ARE ARRESTED OR TAKEN TO A • Oﬃce of Municipal Investigations: 412-255-2804
• American Civil Liberties Union: 412-681-7736
POLICE STATION • NAACP: 412-471-1024 RIGHTS, RESPONSIBILITIES & REALITY
RIGHTS & RESPONSIBILITIES
– THIS PAMPHLET MAY BE COPIED AND REDISTRIBUTED –
1. You have the right to remain silent and to talk to a lawyer before
you answer questions from the police. Tell the police nothing ex- Primary Contributors: American Civil Liberties Union, Greater Pitts- All of us recognize society’s need for eﬀective law enforcement. We should
cept your name and address. Do not give explanations, excuses or burgh Chapter; Pittsburgh Branch NAACP; University of Pittsburgh, respect the valuable and indispensable service provided by police oﬃcers
stories. This information may be used against you. You can make School of Law. Contributors: The Guardians of Greater Pittsburgh; and the dangers and stresses that they face in the performance of their
your defense in court based on what you and your lawyer decide is Homer S. Brown Law Association; Parents Against Violence; Pittsburgh duties. We should also understand our own responsibilities in helping to
best. Board of Public Education. Acknowledgments: Graphics, Ian Wood, Chris uphold the law and in our relationships with the police.
Messina & Nommo Productions. Printing and distribution of this pam-
2. Ask to see a lawyer immediately. If you cannot pay for a lawyer, phlet were made possible by a grant from the Maurice Falk Fund. All people, including minors, are entitled to courteous and respectful
you have a right to a free one if the charges are serious enough to treatment by the police. If you believe that the police have treated you im-
get you jail time. You should ask the police for permission to con- properly or violated your rights, it is recommended that you not deal with
tact a lawyer and ask how you may do so. The Allegheny County the situation at the scene. Rather, discuss the incident with an attorney
Public Defender’s telephone number is 412-350-2401. Do not and/or pursue the matter through legal channels afterwards.
talk without a lawyer.
3. You have a right to make one free telephone call. The call should
be made either to a lawyer or a family member who will contact
a lawyer for you. The police may not listen in on a phone call to a
This brochure is being made available free of charge to all members of the REALITY IF YOU ARE STOPPED IN A CAR
community. It has three purposes:
1. Always be polite and respectful. Never “bad mouth” a police of- RIGHTS & RESPONSIBILITIES
• To outline for people their legal rights when interacting and communi- ﬁcer.
cating with the police, and to give recommendations for dealing with 1. The police can ask you to pull over at any time, so long as they
any problematic situation or encounter. 2. Stay calm, control what you say, as well as your body language and have a reasonable basis to suspect that you have done something
• To inform all people of their responsibilities and obligations any time
they (or a family member or friend) may have some legal contact or 3. Don’t get into an argument with the police. 2. Show your driver’s license and registration upon request.
involvement with police oﬃcers.
4. Even though refusing to answer questions is not a crime, it can 3. The passenger compartment of your car can, in certain cases, be
• To make a positive and constructive contribution toward improved make the police suspicious about you. Remember, anything you say searched without a warrant so long as the police have probable
and sound relations, understanding and appreciation between all can be used against you. cause to arrest you. If the police have probable cause to believe
members of the community and the police. there is evidence of crime in your car, they still cannot search fur-
5. Keep your hands where the police can see them. Don’t make any ther unless they have a warrant, it is an emergency or you consent.
This brochure is organized into subsections titled RIGHTS & sudden movements. To protect yourself later, you should make it clear that you do not
RESPONSIBILITIES and REALITY. The sub-sections on consent to any search. You cannot be arrested simply for refusing
RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES contain information 6. Don’t run. to consent to a search.
about your Constitutional and legal rights. The REALITY subsec-
tions contain practical suggestions on how to respond to any police 7. Don’t touch a police oﬃcer. 4. If you are given a ticket, you should sign it; otherwise you can be
encounter. Although legally you may have a right to engage in arrested. Your signature proves receipt of the ticket. It is not an
particular behavior or demand certain things from the police, the 8. Don’t resist even if you believe you are innocent. admission of guilt.
REALITY subsections suggest that it may not be in your best inter-
ests to assert all of the rights at the time of your encounter. 9. Don’t interfere when an oﬃcer is doing his or her job. 5. If you are suspected of drunken driving and refuse to take a
blood, urine or a breath test, you may be arrested and your driver’s
10. If you believe that you have been the victim of police miscon- license will be suspended.
IN ANY ENCOUNTER WITH THE POLICE duct:
RIGHTS & RESPONSIBILITIES a. Don’t complain or tell the police that they are wrong or that
you will ﬁle a complaint against them. 1. If the police are trying to stop you, pull over right away. If pos-
1. The police can stop and question you if they have reasonable sus- sible, try to pull over in a well-lit area or where there are people.
picion that you have done something illegal. In such a stop, they b. Remember the oﬃcers’ names, badge numbers and/or patrol
can “pat-down” your clothing to check for a concealed weapon if car numbers. 2. Stay in the car until the oﬃcer tells you what to do.
they suspect you have one. Do not physically resist, but make it
clear that you do not consent to any further search. c. Write down everything you can remember as soon as you can. 3. If it is dark outside, turn on the car’s dome light.
Memories fade quickly.
2. You are not legally required to answer a police oﬃcer’s questions. 4. Keep your hands on the steering wheel where the oﬃcer can see
You cannot legally be arrested for refusing to answer questions or d. Try to ﬁnd witnesses. Try to get their names and phone num- them until you are told what to do.
to identify yourself to a police oﬃcer. However, if you are stopped bers.
in a car you must show all necessary motor vehicle documents. 5. Be sure to have all your paperwork current, in order and readily
e. If you are injured, take photographs of the injuries, get medical available. This includes:
3. What you say to the police is always important. What you say attention, and tell the doctor what happened.
can be used against you, and it can cause the police to arrest you. a. Driver’s license
Although “bad mouthing” or criticizing a police oﬃcer may be f. File written complaints with the Citizen’s Police Review Board
legally protected speech, it is not recommended that you do so. (412-765-8023) and the police department’s internal aﬀairs b. Vehicle registration (and little sticker on license plate)
division, known as the Oﬃce of Municipal Investigations
4. You do not have to consent to any search of yourself, your posses- (412-255-2804), and follow through on the matter. c. Insurance card
sions, your car or your home. If you do not consent to a search, be
sure to tell the police. If you do consent to a search, it can aﬀect g. Further assistance can be secured by contacting the ACLU d. Auto safety and emissions inspection stickers
your rights later in court. (412-681-7736), the NAACP (412-471-1024) and/or a private
attorney. Having this information can save you lots of money in ﬁnes and
5. If the police say they have a search warrant, ask to see it and costs and may prevent the towing of your car.
check to make sure that it lists the right person or address.
6. If the oﬃcer searches your car even though you object, don’t interfere.
6. Do not interfere with, or obstruct, the police – you can be arrested
for it. 7. If you are given a ticket, don’t argue about it. You can always ﬁght
the case in traﬃc court later.