Articles

Know Your Rights

September 26, 2019


As your release date approaches, you’re probably feeling many things. Release is a big deal, and it’s normal to
feel excited, anxious or nervous – even scared. This video is about having street smarts,
not just in your neighborhood, but if you ever find yourself in contact with law enforcement. The goal of this video is to help you navigate
police encounters and above all, to keep you safe. Street smarts is when you have the experience
and knowledge to deal with the people and places in your community. Part of being street-smart is knowing your
legal rights and responsibilities so you can protect yourself and stay out of trouble. You might be wondering what your legal rights are. Let’s take a look at where they come from
and how they protect you. Legal rights are rights that come from the
law. The legal rights we talk about in this video
come from the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights: the 10 amendments (changes) to the constitution. They are the 1st, 4th, 5th, and 14th amendments. Have you ever heard of freedom of speech? How about the right to remain silent? Those are two examples of rights you have
from the Bill of Rights. These amendments put limits on what the government
(in this case, the police) can do to you. We spoke to Felicia Reid of the Office of
the Ombudsman in the NYS Office of Children and Family Services about these amendments and the rights they give you. Many people don’t know about their rights with police. The point of us sitting down today is to
talk about those rights so you can safely navigate your way through police encounters. So what is the 1st amendment? The 1st amendment protects rights related
to religion, speech and the press. It essentially says the police can’t stop
you from associating with someone, from saying something or from what you believe in. What is the 4th amendment? The fourth amendment protects your rights
related to privacy. It says the police cannot search a person without a reason. It also says the police cannot arrest a person
without a reason. It also covers warrants, which are court-issued, legal permission to search a person or a place or for a person to be arrested. What is the 5th amendment? The 5th protects rights
related to a criminal trial. You you may have seen on TV and movies the right to remain
silent, right to an attorney, right to a fair trial: these things come out of the 5th
amendment. Can you tell me about the 14th amendment? It came after the civil war, part of a package
of reconstruction amendments that included the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments. The 14th has the equal protection
clause, which says the states have to honor the protections of the 1st, 4th, and 5th amendments. It gives some limited constitutional protection
to both undocumented and documented immigrants. interactions with police can sometimes make people feel anxious, defensive, or upset, but you’re already ahead because you have
learned skills and techniques during your placement to help you stay focused and calm; remember to use them if you ever have contact with the police. Police officers have a difficult job that puts them in danger. Often, police only need your help to find out
information or understand a situation. The quicker you are able to respond with a
cool head, the faster things can be resolved. Let’s look at a few specific situations and
talk about how you can respond. Q: When can the police stop someone? A: When they want to ask a person a question or if they have a reasonable suspicion that person is armed. What’s a reasonable suspicion? It’s essentially a belief connected to a police
officer’s training or experience. For example, a police officer is trained to
recognize the shape of a gun under clothing or the smell of marijuana. If they sense these things around a person,
they can stop that person. Are there any other reasons police can stop a person? Yes, they can stop a person if they
believe their (the officer’s) safety is in danger, or if the public’s safety is in danger. They can also stop a person if they believe
the person has committed a crime, or is about to commit a crime. What if someone knows they didn’t do anything wrong; can they just walk away from the officer? It depends. You would want to read the situation to know what to do, or you’re going to want to ask the police officer. Whatever you do, do not run. Running from police can seem really suspicious
and can put a person in danger. Police can also stop a person to detain them. In that case a person does not have the right
to leave, so if it is unclear whether they are being detained they should always ask
the police officer. What are some ways you can know if you’re
being detained? Some clear indications: If the police officer
has blocked someone with their car, or if they physically restrain a person, or if
the police draw their weapon on somebody; those are cases of detainment. When a person is detained it may also give
rise to a frisk. What is a frisk? That is when a police officer pats down the
outside of a person’s clothing. Usually, with the backs of their hands. They can do this for one of two reasons: either they have a reasonable suspicion that their safety or the public’s safety is in danger,
or the person gives them permission. What if the officer feels something during
the frisk? In that case, they can reach inside a person’s
clothing to see what that thing is. What should somebody do if they are undocumented? If you’re an undocumented immigrant, what
you do not want to do is carry papers or documents from your home country on you in case you
get stopped by police or ICE. A person should also never carry false documents. Having false documents can get someone into
a lot of trouble. If a person does have valid immigration documents,
they should show them to law enforcement immediately. Now that you know when police can stop you, let’s talk about what might happen during the stop. If you’ve been stopped, an officer will probably
ask you questions. Even though police can ask you anything they want to try to get the answers they’re looking for, you still have rights. Knowing your rights and using them during
questioning might prevent you from saying something that could get you in more trouble down the road. The right to remain silent comes from the 5th amendment and it applies to when police question you. Know that police have the right to ask for
your name and address to identify you. You’ll always give them that information, and
understand that giving a fake name or address could get you into serious trouble. Other than your name and address, you don’t have to answer any other questions or say anything else. You can say: Practice now. Good. If you don’t want to talk, but still feel like
police are pressuring you, repeat either of those sentences firmly. If you choose to say something, no matter
what you say, do not lie. Lying to the police has serious consequences. All searches involve the 4th amendment. A search is more personal than a frisk. Police can only do a search if they
have probable cause, a search warrant or a person gives them permission to search their person, car or home. “Probable cause” is a reasonable belief supported by facts and circumstances that a crime has happened, is happening, or will happen. Here are some examples where police have probable cause for a search. The warrant
must also be signed by a judge. Police may also search you under circumstances
called “exigent circumstances,” which are situations that seem like emergencies and require quick
action to stop someone from being harmed or stop something from being destroyed. For example, an officer might search a home
where gunshots have been reported, or search a person if they believe that person
is about to destroy or throw away evidence. If you don’t believe police have probable
cause to conduct a search, you can say loudly, clearly and repeatedly: The cameras and microphones
the officers have on them and in the police car will pick this up. An officer can still search you anyway, but
it’s important to state that you do not consent. Some police departments have a rule that only
male officers can frisk or search men and only female officers can frisk or search women. You can always ask for someone of the same
gender if you’re uncomfortable. If police cannot get someone of the same gender
to do the frisk or search, they are still allowed to search you. Police can also search a car or a home. Because of the rights a person has to their
property, the law requires more of police to search cars and homes. Generally, police can enter and search a home only if they have a valid search or arrest warrant or if someone in the home gives them permission. In New York, a search warrant is a piece of
paper that must have three things: If those three things are not on the warrant,
the warrant may be invalid. Can police ever search a home without a warrant? Only in certain, limited, emergency circumstances, called “exigent” circumstances. These include if someone in the home may be
in danger, if someone in a home is about to commit a crime, if a person in that home if
about to destroy evidence, or if there is a suspect in the home who could escape. Can you explain what “valid search warrant”
means? If the search warrant does not name a specific
place in the home, this essentially means the police can search the entire home and
everything in it. What if the warrant does name a specific thing? An example: a bicycle versus drugs. If police are looking for a bicycle and that’s
what the warrant says, they have to look in places where a bicycle would be, so they couldn’t
look in the cupboard or a jewelry box but they could look in the garage or in a closet. If the police are looking for a drug, this
is more pervasive and it covers more things in the home because you can hide drugs anywhere,
so they could look in the jewelry box or the cupboard or the garage or a closet. What if someone is an undocumented immigrant
and the police want to search them? If police want to search or arrest an undocumented
immigrant the same protections still apply. They need a valid search warrant to come into
somebody’s home to make a search and they need a valid arrest warrant to make an arrest
in a home. Slow down immediately, pull to the side of
the road and turn on your interior light. Lower your window. Put your hands on the steering wheel. Follow the officer’s instructions. If you must move to get something, tell the
officer you’re going to do it before you move. Always remember to stay calm and be polite. Don’t ever try to drive away. The police can also stop a car during a traffic
check such as a DWI roadblock or a seatbelt check. Police can stop a car and question the driver
and passengers if they have a reasonable suspicion that someone in the car has broken a traffic rule or committed a different crime. Police can also ask you to step out the car. Follow this direction if they do. If the police stop a car they can question
the driver and passengers, and do an ‘eyeball,” or ‘plain view’ search of the car. This kind of search is limited to what can
be seen through the window in plain view. Officers can’t open the glove compartment
or trunk unless the driver or a passenger gives them permission, or if there are exigent or emergency circumstances such as we explained earlier. Police can search a car if they have probable
cause to believe there is contraband in the car. That means illegal drugs, weapons, items,
or other substances. In New York, if police find illegal drugs or unregistered guns in the car, everyone in the car could face charges for possessing them, even if not everyone in the car knew they were there. There are a few situations where a stop, search
or another event might end in arrest. Being arrested can be scary and embarrassing,
and might make you feel anxious and powerless, but remaining calm and being aware of your
rights can help you feel more in control and may result in a better outcome. An arrest involves the 4th and 5th amendments. Police can arrest a person without a warrant
if they have probable cause to believe that they are, or have been, involved in criminal
activity, or under emergency or exigent circumstances. No, police are not allowed to intentionally
hurt you during an arrest. The police can only use the amount of force
necessary to make the arrest. Always remember: the more you resist, the
more force officers can use, but they are not allowed to use extra force. If you are arrested, tell the officer your
name and address. Once you’re in custody, they’ll likely ask
you questions or try to get a written statement from you. Before they do this, they must advise you
of your Miranda rights. Maybe you’ve heard of Miranda rights on
TV or movies. In New York, they usually read like this: Just remember: other than your name and address, you do not have to say anything to police if they ask you questions. You can say: If you don’t want to talk but feel like police
are pressuring you, repeat either of those two sentences firmly. Sometimes people who get arrested say things to police because they think it will help them get out of trouble, or that officers will treat them better. Know that police are legally allowed to lie
when questioning you, and that you never know if something you think is helpful is actually
getting you into more trouble. You are best off saying and repeating: If you choose to say something to police,
whatever you say, do not lie. If you’re under 18, the police must call your
parent or legal guardian. Media is a big part of our lives. You’ve probably seen encounters between police and the community on social media, television, or online. There are many reasons to record a police
encounter that you witness or are involved with, but before you take out your phone,
there are a few things to know to keep yourself safe. Yes, images and videos are treated like photographs. Under the 1st amendment, people have the right to photograph things happening IN a public place, or things happening FROM a public place. Let’s say someone is in a house and they see the police arresting someone or doing something on the street. They can take pictures or video of that interaction. Conversely, if someone is in the street and
they can see the police taking action inside a home, they can take a picture or video of
that activity. The laws on this differ from state to state,
but in NY, only one person in the conversation needs permission to record the conversation. You could always record your conversation
with police or with another person if you are one of the people in that conversation. If you are in a public place and you can overhear
a conversation and you can hear it clearly, you can record it; the idea is that the people
having the conversation in the public space don’t care. Police work hard to keep our communities safe
but occasionally, encounters with law enforcement can result in mistreatment or feelings that
police don’t respect the community. If you’re involved in a police encounter and
feel you have been mistreated, or had your rights violated, there is a way to report
misconduct for investigation. What steps can a person take if they feel
that their rights have been violated? All police departments have an office or department
that takes civilian complaint forms and reports. If you feel like your rights have been violated,
take down the details as soon as possible while the incident is fresh in mind. Get the police badge numbers
as well as what the officers look like. But what if somebody is hurt? If somebody is hurt during a police encounter,
they should take pictures of their injuries. If there is property damage, they should take
pictures of that property damage. One thing that’s really important is to also
get receipts for any repairs to property or for any doctor’s bills related to the injuries. Then take all of that information and make
a copy of it and keep it in a safe place. What about witnesses; are they important? Yes. You should get their names, their addresses, their email and phone information when they appear in a police report. Police may ask them what they saw and what they heard related to the incident so they can get more information in that report. Where can someone find a civilian complaint form? All police departments have forms in their
divisions or someone can go to the computer and search for the police department,
the town or city where an incident occurred and then the term “civilian complaint form,” and usually a link to the online form will come up. If a person needs a lawyer related to an incident they can always contact the Office of the Ombudsman and we can give them a list of legal services and contacts. Just like when you’re out in your community, it’s also important to be street-smart at school. Did you know school officials can search your locker without permission? This next section will explain. A school official can search school lockers
if they have a reasonable suspicion the search will turn up evidence that a student is violating
or has violated either the law or school rules. It’s on you to follow the law and school rules. To stay safe and out of trouble, do not bring illegal drugs or substances, alcohol or weapons to school. Schools can use scans with
metal detectors but only if the school does not single out students based on race, sex,
gender, national origin and so on. In other words, if the school runs all students through a metal detector then the search is legal. If the school were to only run students of
a certain race or gender through a metal detector, that would be unlawful. Yes, under certain limited circumstances, a school district can direct a student to be strip-searched in a private place in school. An example: if the official believes you
have a weapon, or illegal drugs on your person. Yes, officers can bring a trained dog to detect
the odor of drugs or explosives in school lockers without having to get a search warrant. If a dog picks up the smell of drugs or explosives,
then the police have probable cause to do a search. Now that you know more about some of your
rights you can use your street smarts if you have a police encounter when you go back into
your community or at school. The most important thing is your safety, so
use what you know to protect yourself. You can always contact the Office of the Ombudsman
if you have a question about any part of this video or about your rights once you are released
from placement.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *