There have been a lot of reports in the news lately about people being treated unfairly, and sometimes illegally, during traffic stops in Mississippi and the rest of the nation.
In the event that you are pulled over and questioned by police, it's important to understand your rights and what to do to protect those rights.
What you should do after being stopped by police:
- Find a safe place to pull over your vehicle. Turn off your vehicle, turn on the interior light, if it is dark outside, and place your hands on the steering wheel.
- Stay calm and be polite.
- You have the right to remain silent. Tell the officer out loud if you wish to exercise this right.
- You have the right to not give the officer permission to search your body, your car or your home. However, if police believe there is evidence of a crime, the office does not need your consent.
- If you are arrested, you have the right to know why and to ask for a lawyer. You should ask for a lawyer immediately and before giving a statement to police.
- Remember as many details as you can about the arrest. Write or record the details as soon as you have a chance.
- Do not lie, give false information, or interfere with or obstruct the police.
- Do not try to talk your way out of it.
- Do not run or drive away.
Using the Mobile Justice Mississippi app
The American Civil Liberties Union of Mississippi has created an app aimed at holding law enforcement accountable during traffic stops and other interactions with citizens. The Mobile Justice Mississippi smartphone app allows people to do four main things:
- Record their interaction with police officers in audio and video files;
- Alert witnesses in the area who are also app users;
- Provide a more detailed account of the interaction; and
- Understand their rights when stopped by police officers.
This app can be extremely useful in any exchange with the police. However, it's important to keep in mind that in order to use it safely and effectively, you must let the officer know that you are reaching for your phone and attempting to access the app to record what is happening.
It is perfectly legal to record exchanges with police, but if an officer does not allow you to do so, you should not argue or attempt to do so anyway. Your lawyer can still defend your rights.