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How Do You Know when Your Civil Rights Have Been Violated?

When you are facing charges for committing a crime in California, there are very specific rights you are afforded under the law. If the police violate those rights or you feel they have not been honored in any way, it may change the outcome of your case. Knowing your rights is one of the most important things you can do, and the ACLU simplifies what rights you have when you are stopped by police.

If you are stopped by the police in public, you have the following rights:

  • The right to a government appointed attorney if you cannot afford your own

  • The right to remain silent

  • The right to deny a search of your belongings or yourself, although a pat down may be necessary if police suspect you have a weapon

  • The right to refuse to answer questions about your immigration status, how you came into the country or where you were born

When facing a stop by the police, it is important to keep things calm. While the job of de-escalating the situation lies with the law enforcement officer, you can help when you don’t resist, run from or obstruct any officer. Never give false documents or lie to an officer and keep your hands in plain view during the entire stop.

If you feel that your rights were violated when you were stopped or arrested by the police, it is important that you document everything. Write down the patrol car numbers and badge numbers of the officers, as well as the agency they came from. Have any witnesses give you contact information for further questioning. If you are injured, take pictures of your injuries and get medical attention quickly. You can also file a written complain with the civilian complaint board or with the internal affairs division of the agency, or you can contact an attorney for help.