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                                                    Please Know Your Basic Rights and Civil Rights

Everyone has basic rights under the U.S. Constitution and Civil Rights Laws that are very important to know.  This section will provide a brief summary of legal definitions and Amendments to help you learn more about what your rights are, how to exercise them, and what to do when your rights are violated. 

Stopped by the Police 

Being stopped by police is a stressful experience that can go bad quickly.  Never run from the police, you may be able to reduce risk to yourself by staying calm and not exhibiting hostility toward the officers.  Try everything in your power to make the situation comfortable, which helps put the officers at ease and will  avoid injury.  And by chance if there is police misconduct or bullying, you must report them to the Watch Commander immediately.  It doesn’t matter what agency is contacted. 

Consensual Stop 

Lacking reasonable suspicion, police may stop an individual based on a hunch, constituting a "consensual" stop.  United States v. Mendenhall found that police are not generally required to advise an individual that they have been stopped on a consensual basis and that he/she may leave at any time.  Law enforcement officers don’t need a reason to talk to someone in public. 

Terry Stops (Terry v Ohio)

Terry Stops are brief detentions that often takes the form of a stop-and-frisk.  Police can initiate a Terry Stop whenever they have a reasonable suspicion that a crime is happening, and suspect is not free to leave.  Police are only allowed to search for a weapon by stopping and frisking the suspect. The detention can only last for a short duration. 

Motor vehicle Stop

The Supreme Court has held that individuals in automobiles have a reduced expectation of privacy, because (1) vehicles generally do not serve as residences or repositories of personal effects, and (2) vehicles "can be quickly moved out of the locality or jurisdiction in which the warrant must be sought. Vehicles may not be randomly stopped and searched; there must be probable cause or reasonable suspicion of criminal activity. Items in plain view may be seized; areas that could potentially hide weapons may also be searched. With probable cause to believe evidence is present, police officers may search any area in the vehicle. However, they may not extend the search to the vehicle's passengers without probable cause to search those passengers or consent from the passengers. In Collins v. Virginia (2018) the Court ruled that the motor vehicle exception did not apply to searches of vehicles parked within a residence's curtilage

In Arizona v. Gant (2009) the Court ruled that a law enforcement officer needs a warrant before searching a motor vehicle after an arrest of an occupant of that vehicle, unless 1) at the time of the search the person being arrested is unsecured and within reaching distance of the passenger compartment of the vehicle or 2) police officers must have reason to believe evidence for the crime for which the person is being arrested will be found in the vehicle.

When Law Enforcement restricts a person’s freedom to leave but does not arrest them

Ineligible for Bail

Being ineligible for bail means that someone is in custody and no amount of bail paid will result in a custody release. 

An arrest is using legal authority to deprive a person of his or her freedom of movement.  An arrest is generally made with an arrest warrant.  An arrest may trigger certain procedural requirements, such as the person under arrest to be given a Miranda Warning.

Fourth Amendment 

The Constitutions’ Fourth Amendment protects people from unreasonable Search and Seizure by the government. The Fourth Amendment, however, is not a guarantee against all Search and Seizures, but only those that are deemed unreasonable under the Law.  Never waive your rights for an unlawful search because the police say so,  No!  Police must have a your consent or a search warrant.


Bill of Rights 

The Bill of Rights are the first 10 Amendments to the Constitution.  It spells out Americans’ rights in relation to their government.  It also guarantees Civil Rights and Liberties to the individual like Freedom of Speech, Press, and Religion.  It sets rules for Due Process of Law and reserves all powers not delegated to the Federal Government to the people or the States.  And it specifies that “the enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.” 

Please know your rights.
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