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Understanding your rights when communicating with authorities

Knowing your rights is critical anytime you interact with authorities, because it may help protect you and potentially prevent you from facing criminal charges. Your rights differ to some degree based on whether authorities stop you in your car, stop you while out in public or come to your home. So, it is important that you familiarize yourself with your rights in all of these areas.

What should you know about interacting with law enforcement officials under varying circumstances?

Your rights during traffic stops

You have the right to remain silent during an arrest, and you also have the right to remain silent during a traffic stop, regardless of whether you are driving the car or riding in it. If you are not the driver of the car and want to vacate the car and scene, request to do so from the officer on the scene. Whether you may leave is at the law enforcement officer’s discretion.

Your rights while out in public

You also maintain the right to remain silent when authorities stop you in a public place. You do not have to answer questions about what you are doing or where you are going. There is one possible exception, though. Under certain circumstances, you may have to provide your name, address and birthday when law enforcement officials stop you in a public place in Ohio.

Your rights while at home

Unless authorities have a warrant, you do not have any obligation to allow them into your home. In the event that they do have a warrant, ask them to slip it under the door for you to review. You have the right to remain silent during the search. During this time, you should keep quiet, but monitor what authorities do and what they take from your home. Consider taking notes during the search, too, as they may benefit you later on.

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