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What to Do (and Not Do) in the Back of a Police Car

Nov 30, 2023 | Criminal Lawyer

“Out of your vehicle. Now,” the cop demands. Your heart pounds as he shoves you into the back of his car. Now what? Are you going to jail?

If you find yourself in this unpleasant situation, your actions can seriously impact what happens next. What you say and do could make the difference between walking free and spending days (or longer) behind bars.

A criminal defense attorney explains what you should and should not do if a police officer puts you in the back of their car.

Stay Calm No Matter How Mad You Are

It is tempting to argue with the police if they accuse you of a criminal offense, especially if you did not do anything wrong. However, becoming combative and yelling at the cops is one of the biggest mistakes you can make, as doing so can lead to even more criminal charges.

If an officer puts you in the back of their car, do not swear or even raise your voice at them. Do not make any sketchy-looking sudden movements, either. The last thing you want is for the officer to think you’re hiding a weapon.

Do Not Let Your Guard Down

Many cops will act like your friend, so you will relax and drop your guard. They say things like, “We only want to understand what happened” and “If you tell the truth, we will let you off easy.”

Do not fall for it. The officer is not your buddy, and they certainly are not trying to help you. Remember, they can use whatever you say against you, so stay tight-lipped.

Do Not Agree to a Search

If the officer has not arrested you yet, tell them you do not consent to them digging through your stuff. This includes what is in your glovebox, trunk, backpack, or anything else that belongs to you.

The police need “probable cause” to search your car. Without cause, they have to request permission from you. Many people give that permission because they feel intimidated or think going along with the officer’s request will help their case.

However, it is usually better to just say no. You do not want to give the officer any reason to accuse you of a crime.

The officer may also ask for the passcode to your phone. While the police can take your phone if they arrest you, they typically need a warrant to search its contents, so refuse to unlock your device if asked.

Ask to Speak With a Criminal Defense Attorney

If arrested, you have the right to stay silent, and you should take advantage of that right. Tell the police you will not answer questions without a criminal defense attorney present. The only information you have to give is confirmation of your identity.

Request a Phone Call

If the officer takes you to the police station, now is a great time to call a criminal law attorney. You have the right to ask for a phonebook or a list of criminal defense attorneys near you.

You may also call your family, but do not tell them any information about your case (no matter how tempting it may be). Assume the police are recording and monitoring any conversation you have.

Arnold & Bailey Assists With Criminal Cases in West Virginia

Nobody plans on finding themselves in the back of a police car, but sometimes, life happens. If the police arrest you, call a criminal defense attorney to back you up. 

Attorneys from Arnold & Bailey have the requisite experience to help people in your situation. For a consultation, call our firm at 304-725-2002.