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Know your rights: Being stopped by police

Many in Virginia are aware of some of their rights because of crime procedural shows on television, but in the event of being stopped or questioned by law enforcement, it is important to understand the rights available to those in the United States. A person can end up a part of an investigation without having committed a crime, so being aware of one's rights is one way to protect against arrest.

As the American Civil Liberties Union explains, in the United States everyone has constitutional rights, even if they are an immigrant. When a person decides to use their right to remain silent, they should inform the officers of this out loud. Ask if the officers are making an arrest; if the answer is no, the person has the right leave. Without a search warrant, people have the right to refuse a search of themselves, their homes and vehicles. If an arrest is made, the person being arrested has the right to a lawyer and should ask to consult with one immediately. All of this should be done politely and in a calm manner. No one should lie to officers or try to hinder their investigation. 

According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, a new training program for law enforcement officers and recruits is being developed to educate or refresh their understanding of constitutional rights in realistic scenarios. The program takes between 10 and 12 hours to complete, and it is also available to the public. The program is meant to help foster a better relationship between the public and law enforcement officers.


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