Even someone who feels confident that they consistently abide by the law might feel intensely nervous during an encounter with law enforcement professionals. Many people have a natural sense of anxiety when dealing with authority figures, and that nervousness can actually lead to mistakes that get them in trouble.
All too often, those who are talking to police officers at their front door, during a traffic stop or out in public make mistakes that directly lead to their arrest and criminal prosecution. What are the most common mistakes that people make during an encounter with the police?
Inviting the police inside
When the police knock on someone’s front door, they often asked to come in and expect someone to acquiesce. Unfortunately, if they spot any signs of illegal activity, they may then have grounds to start searching the property. Politely declining entry to a home is legal and often a smart move.
Offering too much information
People who are anxious often overshare. This can be a particularly dangerous habit when dealing with law enforcement officers. The statements that someone makes can implicate them in criminal activity or may contradict something they previously said. Especially once an officer has indicated they suspect an individual of criminal activity, asserting the right to remain silent is often the smartest move someone could make.
Agreeing to a search
Officers might ask someone during a roadside encounter if they could look through a vehicle or ask to pat someone down when talking on a sidewalk somewhere. Agreeing to a search won’t absolve someone of police suspicion, but it could lead to an officer finding something that results in an arrest.
Being defiant or hostile
It is possible to inquire about whether the officer intends to detain someone or if they are free to go without being hostile. It is also possible to refuse an officer’s request to search or come into a home without being outright rude. While politeness is not necessary when dealing with police officers, it often helps. Maintaining a respectful attitude can help defuse the situation.
Learning more about the mistakes that people commonly make during an encounter with the police can help people to avoid criminal charges or convictions. When missteps have already been made, seeking legal guidance is usually the best way forward.