Stops and Searches: Know Your Rights

Posted on September 8th, 2020 in Civil Right

Stops and searches by police can sometimes be frightening–especially if you believe your civil rights are being violated. Whether it is discriminatory conduct or unlawful practices, you are guaranteed constitutional protections both under federal and state law.

Attorney Craig Kalinoski has experience both as an attorney and as a police officer, and he will work diligently to make sure your rights are protected and your voice is heard.

What is a police stop?

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) categorizes police stops in various ways. This includes:

  • Being stopped by the police in public;
  • Being pulled over by the police; or
  • The police are at your door.

It is important to remember that the Fourth Amendment protects citizens from unreasonable searches and seizures, which would be a police stop unless that individual is physically detained or submits to an order to stop. However, under the Pennsylvania Constitution, the definition of seizure occurs when police restrict the movement of another, request identification, or question that individual in regards to criminal conduct.

Knowing the differences between these protections not only is important to your civil rights, but also the charge which can be procured.

Search and Seizure Protections

When determining the constitutional protections in search and seizure cases, the classification of the encounter will determine what protections are available. The classifications are as follows:

  • Mere Encounters: This is the lowest level of interaction. This would include non-coercive conversations with the person who is then free to leave. Because these cases are considered non-coercive, the individual will have limited to no constitutional protections, meaning the person would not be able to assert any rights. In many cases, this will escalate into a search, meaning that the person cannot walk away freely. The courts will often look to factors such as the position the officer and individual were in, the officer’s tone, any requests made, etc.
  • Investigative Detentions: These forms of interaction allow the individual to invoke constitutional protections. It does not require a police officer to advise on Miranda Rights, but they are permitted to conduct a frisk if needed. Reasonable suspicion is the only legal requirement for a police officer to conduct a search.
  • Arrest: An arrest is the highest level of constitutional protections. While this is the highest level of protection, it is also circumstantial to the case, which can make the rights of the accused further complicated.

In general, you have the following rights in police interactions:

  • The right to remain silent.
  • You do not have to consent to a search of your personal possessions–but police can pat you down if they suspect weapons are in your possession.
  • If you are arrested, you have a right to a government-appointed attorney if you cannot afford to hire your own.
  • If you are a passenger in a vehicle, you may ask if you are free to go. If yes, do so quietly.
  • You do not have to let police into your home without a warrant.

Remember, if you are a victim of unethical searches and seizures, you need to make note of any identifying information about the officer as well as any details of the encounter you can remember.

Stops and Searches in PA: Kalinoski Law Offices

When your civil rights are on the line, you need the protection of a trusted Scranton lawyer. Attorney Craig Kalinoski will protect your rights and bring you the justice you deserve. Contact us today.

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