Police interactions are stressful at best, so it’s no surprise that many people have difficulty remaining calm and thinking clearly when they are stopped by an officer. It’s important to know your rights before a stop occurs so that you can react appropriately and prevent further incident.
Police Officers and Reasonable Restraint
One of the most common questions that comes up in civil rights discussions is, “Can the police touch me?”
Unfortunately, an already-heated situation can become even more volatile when someone feels like an officer is violating their space. In Washington D.C., officers can – and often do – legally restrain people who they believe may become hostile. As long as an officer believes that a confrontation may occur, you can be restrained. It’s important to note, however, that police officers do not have free rein to restrain someone. They must use reasonable restraints that use the minimum amount of force necessary.
While considering what might be considered threatening behavior, it’s important to note that Washington D.C. has a fairly lax view of what constitutes “assault of a police officer.” In fact, people have been arrested for assault of an officer after yelling, putting one hand on a steering wheel during an arrest, or wiggling while handcuffed. If these actions can be construed as assault, even more minor reactions can be enough to justify a police officer restraining you.
Avoid Escalating the Situation
Although it might not seem fair that you are expected to de-escalate a situation that you did not cause, it is essential to remain calm and avoid behavior that could be perceived as threatening during police interactions. Even if you feel that your rights have been violated, remember that reacting aggressively could make a situation even worse.
During police interactions, keep the following tips in mind:
- Keep your hands in full view of the officer
- Do not run or move erratically
- Do not touch an officer
- Remain silent – anything you say can be used against you
- Do not argue with officers
- If you speak, maintain a calm, even tone of voice
- Take note of badge numbers as soon as possible
- Contact a Washington D.C. attorney if you feel that your rights have been ignored
Protecting Your Civil Rights in Washington D.C.
Many people whose rights have been violated never act, which lays the foundation for more people to be treated unfairly by the system. Advocating for yourself is one way to influence change and protect your freedom.
Navigating the system can be very difficult on your own, however. Without a solid knowledge of the laws that govern police interactions, you may find that your complaints are ignored and swept under the rug. That’s why it’s essential to touch base with a civil rights attorney in Washington D.C. An attorney can advocate for your rights within the boundaries of the law and serve as a neutral party to carefully examine the evidence and build a strong case on your behalf.
Fight Back Against Unfair Treatment
Your civil rights should be guaranteed, but that isn’t always the case. If you’ve been the victim of excess force or another civil rights violation, reach out to The McDaniel Law Group, PPLC today by calling (202) 875-8361.
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