American police make over 10 million arrests each year, the majority of these relating to lower-level offenses.
Many of these arrests prevent the commission of crimes and help to keep our society safe. Unfortunately, a huge number are unjustified.
Depending on the state you live in, police may be limited in their power to stop and ID citizens.
Read on as we look at the rules in different stop and ID states, and what your rights are if you live in Louisiana.
What Are Stop and ID States?
In the United States, there is no law requiring citizens to carry identification. An exception to this is made for drivers or people traveling by plane.
You will also never be legally required to give personal information to the police unless they have reasonable suspicion of your involvement in a crime.
However, 24 states do have what are called “stop and ID” laws. These laws state that if police suspect that you have committed a crime or you are in the process of committing one, you can be arrested for refusing to identify yourself.
Louisiana has these rules. Other states that have them include Rhode Island, Illinois, Georgia, Montana, and Nevada.
What Are the Rules in Louisiana?
If you give police a good reason to suspect that you are involved in criminal activity, they have the right to make you identify yourself. If you fail to do so, they may be entitled to arrest you.
The only information you will be required to share in this situation is your name and address.
What Should You Do if a Police Officer Stops You for Questioning?
The first thing to remember in this situation is to stay calm.
Confrontations with law enforcement can be frightening, especially if you aren’t used to them. If you lose your cool, you can make your situation a lot worse than it needs to be.
The next thing to do is to remember your rights.
Some police officers will try to take advantage of your surprise and ask you for information which you are not obliged to give. If you do give such information, it may be held against you later, regardless of whether you knew you didn’t have to mention it.
Any restriction of your freedom of movement by a police officer amounts to detainment. Detainment is possible where an officer has a reasonable suspicion that criminal activity is occurring.
Police officers can only arrest you if they have an arrest warrant or probable cause.
In the case of the latter, you will have to be brought before a competent authority soon after your arrest, so that it can be confirmed as lawful.
When a police officer begins asking you for information, simply ask “are you detaining me?” If the answer is no, move on quickly without answering any further questions.
Your Rights Under Arrest
If you are arrested, remember that you don’t have to say anything until you have the chance to consult with a lawyer. In fact, you don’t have to say anything at all, although it may harm your defense if you take this approach.
You have the right to have your attorney present during all questioning.
You have the right to refuse a bodily search unless you are under arrest, or the police have a search warrant.
If the police officer attempting to search you claims that they have a warrant, you should always ask to see it. The warrant should give the officer specific permission to search you.
You should note that police will never need a search warrant in respect of something that is in plain view. For example, if you have an illegal firearm tucked into your waistband that can be clearly seen, the police will not need a warrant to examine it.
Arrest vs Detainment
There are differences between arrest and temporary detainment in terms of how police are allowed to treat you.
In terms of search, for example, the police have far more extensive rights if you are under arrest. If you are just temporarily detained, the police are entitled to pat you down to ensure you don’t have weapons.
However, this is only allowed where the police have reason to believe you pose a threat to the peace.
If you are under arrest, however, the police are entitled to carry out a full-body search.
What Happens if Your Rights Are Violated?
The result of a breach of your rights will depend on the extent and nature of the violation.
While you have the right not to share information with the police, they are entitled to record and use anything you give them freely. This will not violate any of your rights, which is why you must be careful when communicating with them.
However, if police obtain evidence in an unlawful fashion, this may be ruled inadmissible at trial.
An illegal search is one of the most common ways in which evidence is collected unlawfully. If the police search you unlawfully and find something incriminating (drugs, for example), you will not be convicted if you can prove the illegality at trial.
Know Your Rights
Our police do tremendous work each and every day. Unfortunately, some of them break the rules, and it can be distressing for civilians to find themselves on the receiving end of unfair police treatment.
If you live in one of the stop and ID states, be sure to know your rights.
If you live in Baton Rouge, Livingston, or a nearby area and you feel you’ve been unfairly treated by a member of the police, contact us today to discuss your options.