Many people find interaction with law enforcement to be a nerve-wracking affair. Following are five tips on handling a police encounter in Ohio:
Be polite and courteous — You do not have to speak to police. However, if you want the encounter be over as soon as possible, do not disrespect or bad mouth law enforcement officers. Never give police a reason to give you a hard time.
You do not have to respond to questioning — If police question you, you have the right to remain silent. Remember, anything you say can be used against you. However, according to Ohio law since April 2006, if you are in a public place and under certain circumstances (for example, if you witness a crime), you must provide your name, address and date of birth to an officer. In the event that police stop your vehicle and ask for your license, registration and insurance, you must provide these documents.
Do not consent to a search — You have the right to deny any request to search your person, car or house. Officers may pat you down if they suspect you are carrying a weapon. If you are in your car, police officers may search your vehicle if they have probable cause. In order to conduct a search of your home, police require your consent or a warrant. If police are insistent on searching you or your property, do not interfere in the investigation.
If you are arrested — If police arrest you and place you in handcuffs, you do not have to respond to police questioning until you have spoken to your lawyer. Always invoke your right to remain silent. Also, remember, an arrest is not a conviction — you are innocent until proven guilty.
While misdemeanors are less serious crimes than felonies, any type of criminal charge can wreak havoc on your life and should therefore be dealt with swiftly and only with the assistance of a legal professional.