police car stopping car

What Are My Rights if I’m Stopped by Police in North Carolina?

By Joel Hancock

When the police stop you it can be extremely intimidating – even if you’ve done nothing illegal. That’s why it’s so important to understand all of your rights when in such a position. 

There are several reasons as to why a police officer may choose to stop you. Aside from conducting a routine stop, police officers are given much deference when it comes to suspecting that someone has violated a law. When someone has reasonable suspicion, they may choose to conduct a search of you and/or your vehicle (if they have separate probable cause). However, there are also limitations to what the police can search. 

When you are being pulled over while driving, it’s key that you stay calm and try to pull to the right shoulder or over somewhere as soon as possible without putting yourself or anyone else in any type of unnecessary danger.

The First Amendment

The First Amendment grants you the freedom of speech. Therefore you are free to calmly object to a search of yourself or your vehicle. Additionally, the same amendment allows you to record your experience with the police. You are allowed to take pictures and videos of officers while they are performing their official duties in a public setting. Because police officers require a warrant to go through your cell phone, you have the right to keep your pictures and records – you do not have to delete them if requested or demanded. You must still make sure that you do not interfere with anything that the police are doing while you are exercising the aforementioned rights.

The Fourth Amendment

Under the Fourth Amendment, you can object to an unreasonable search and seizure of your property. This means that if you believe that the police officer did not have probable cause (a legitimate reason) to search your property, you can object. If a police officer believes that you are carrying a weapon he or she may pat you down on (top of) your clothing. You may feel violated or helpless during this situation, but if you believe that a police officer is conducting any type of search or seizure illegally, it’s imperative that you express your lack of consent during the search. This statement can actually serve you during future legal proceedings. 

The Fifth Amendment

Finally, under the Fifth Amendment, you are granted your Miranda rights. Miranda rights, which are required whenever police are holding a suspect, explain that you have the right to remain silent, as anything that you say can (and will) be used against you in a court of law. You also have the right to an attorney or an attorney will be appointed to you if you can’t afford one. Additionally, you don’t have to answer anything that the police officer asks. In such a situation you should explain that you are invoking your Fifth Amendment right and request an attorney.

Hancock Law Firm, PLLC Helps Those in North Carolina Whose Rights Have Been Violated by the Police

If you or a loved one has had your rights violated by a police officer it is imperative that you contact a North Carolina criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. A violation of your rights can overturn an entire case. 

At Hancock Law Firm, PLLC, we fully understand what is at stake and will do everything that we can to help you fight your charges and obtain the best possible outcome for you. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, contact us today!

About the Author
Joel Hancock is a native of Carteret County, NC. He devotes 100% of his practice to defending those accused of traffic infractions, DWI, misdemeanors, and felonies in Carteret County, NC.