[AM I FREE TO GO?
This should be the first thing you ask a police officer if they approach you and start asking you questions, or talking to you.
If the officer says YES, then calmly walk away. If they do not give you a YES or NO response, ask again until you get a clear answer.
If the officer says no, then you are being detained.
Being DETAINED means you are being held by an officer, and you no longer have the legal right to walk away.
An officer should have REASONABLE SUSPICION that you have committed, are committing, or will commit a crime. It CANNOT be based on profiling.
The officer should ask: Your Name, Address of residence, and will ask you for your ID. If you do not have ID tell the officer, but if you have one tell the officer you are reaching into your pockets to get your ID, then hand it to them. Having an ID may help avoid an illegal arrest.
If the officer asks you for more than your name and address you DO NOT have to answer. Just say I AM GOING TO REMAIN SILENT. And then remain silent.
When you’re detained, an officer may only legally FRISK you if they have REASONABLE SUSPICION that you are armed and that they are in danger.
A FRISK is a pat-down on the outside of your clothes and bag to see if you are armed AND pose a threat to the officer’s safety. FRISKS are limited, and an officer should NEVER go into your pockets or bag during a FRISK, and they cannot tell you to empty your pockets so they can find evidence against you.
You DO NOT have to consent to a FRISK. Say “I DO NOT CONSENT TO THIS SEARCH.” It may stop the officer, it may not, but if you calmly and clearly say “I DO NOT CONSENT TO THIS SEARCH” and the officer continues to FRISK you, this can come in handy later.
A SEARCH is more invasive than a FRISK. A SEARCH includes going into your Pockets, Bag, or any close container you are carrying, feeling the inside of your waistband, removing your hat and shoes, and if you wear a bra, to shake it out (NOT REMOVE THE BRA).
SEARCHES can ONLY happen when (1) An officer has PROBABLE CAUSE (more than REASONABLE SUSPICION) that the SEARCH will reveal evidence that you committed a crime, are armed, or are concealing contraband, (2) If you consent to a search, (3) If they have a WARRANT, or (4) If you have been arrested.
Remember to say, calmly and loud enough for people around the area to hear you “I DO NOT CONSENT TO THIS SEARCH.” If an officer has no legal justification for a SEARCH saying this should stop them from searching you, but if they continue using this can be helpful in court.
NEVER empty out your pockets, because that is giving the officer consent to search you.
Police may arrest you if they have PROBABLE CAUSE (hard evidence) that you committed a crime.
You can give your name and address. Other than this, you have the legal right to remain silent. Say out loud “I AM GOING TO REMAIN SILENT. I WOULD LIKE TO SPEAK TO AN ATTORNEY.”
DO NOT talk about anything that has to do with your arrest with anyone until you have an attorney present. DO NOT talk to the police or District Attorney, because they are trained to trick people and make people confess.
DO NOT sign anything without an attorney present. You may be waiving your rights or confessing to a crime.
You will be handcuffed, searched, fingerprinted, and photographed for most offenses. At the Precinct, you should be searched by an officer of the gender you identify as or request. IF this does not happen then the police MUST explain why in their command log.
Police should not be allowed to enter your home or place of business unless they have a WARRANT. There are a few exceptions like: The police hear someone shouting for help, they believe that drugs or other evidence is being destroyed, they are in pursuit of someone who committed a serious offense, or the house is a crime scene.
A WARRANT is a legal piece of paper that allows police to enter your home. Officers should tell you they have a WARRANT and should be able to present it to you.
You can ask them to slide it under the door, or open the door just enough for them to slide the WARRANT through.
The WARRANT should be signed by a judge, have a recent date (no more than ten days, if the date is more than ten days ago the WARRANT is invalid), Correct Address, and should state what the police are looking for. If any of this is wrong, the WARRANT is invalid. You should tell the officer that the WARRANT is invalid and that you will not let them inside unless they can produce a valid WARRANT.
Police should NOT make Homophobic or Transphobic remarks or descriminations based on your sexual orientation or gender expression or identity.
You have the right to be referred to by the NAME, HONORIFICS, AND PRONOUNS that reflect your gender identity (even if it does not match what is on your ID).
It is ILLEGAL for officers to search you to identify your gender. If this happens REPORT it.
You should be placed in the cells with the gender you identify as, even if it differs from what was assigned to you at birth.
If you feel scared for your safety you can ask to be treated as a SPECIAL CATEGORY PRISONER and transferred to a cell by yourself. Police should not handcuff you to a rails, bars, or chains for a long period of time because you asked to be treated as a SPECIAL CATEGORY PRISONER.
Did you know you have the legal right to observe and document police activity?
You have the right to watch and record police activity as long as you are at a reasonable distance and are not interfering.
This is called COPWATCH.
Copwatch is when people from various communities gather to watch the cops in small groups. We record any police misconduct and many times our presence alone helps de-escalate situations from getting worse.
You can Copwatch in teams or by yourself; however it is more than recommended that you are with a trained group.
For more information on COPWATCH, or if you want to build a formal team in your area, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.]
Please keep this circulating. Cops are getting more and more brazen, know your rights!
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