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Obstruction, Resisting, and Related Charges

Obstruction, Resisting, Failure to Obey and Related Charges

It's important to know what your rights are when stopped by a law enforcement officer, because most officers will not tell you if you are free to leave unless you ask and sometimes you may have to ask several times before you get an answer.  You may refuse a warrantless search and may refuse to answer most questions. Knowing your rights will go a long way to protecting against obstruction, resisting, failure to obey, and other charges arising from unwanted contact with law enforcement or while interacting with government agencies. 

If you're stopped by police, you have the right to remain silent. If you wish to remain silent, tell the officer. Stay calm. Don't run. Don't argue, resist, or obstruct the police. Keep your hands where police can see them. Ask if you're free to leave. If yes, calmly and silently walk away. You do not have to consent to a search of yourself or your belongings.

If you're stopped in your car, stop the car in a safe place as quickly as possible.Turn off the car, open the window and place your hands on the wheel. Upon request, show police your driver's license, registration, and proof of insurance.

If an officer or immigration agent asks to search your car, you can refuse. Both drivers and passengers have the right to remain silent. If you're a passenger, you can also ask if you're free to leave. If yes, you can silently leave.

If You're asked about your immigration status you have the right to remain silent. You do not have to answer questions about where you were born, whether you're a U.S. citizen, or how you entered the country. (Separate rules apply at international borders and airports, and for individuals on certain nonimmigrant visas, including tourists and business travelers.) If you're not a U.S. citizen and have valid immigration papers, you should show them if an immigration agent requests it. Do not lie about your citizenship status or provide fake documents.

If the police or immigration agents come to your home, you don't have to let them in unless they have a warrant signed by a judge. Ask them to show you the warrant. Officers can only search the areas and for the items listed on the warrant. An arrest warrant allows police to enter the home of the person listed on the warrant if they believe the person is inside.

An ICE detainer or an order of removal/deportation does not allow officers to enter a home without consent. If You're Arrested by Police Do not resist. Say you wish to remain silent and ask for a lawyer. If you can't afford a lawyer, the government must provide one. Don't say anything, sign anything, or make any decisions without a lawyer. You have the right to make a local phone call. The police cannot listen if you call a lawyer. Don't discuss your immigration status with anyone but your lawyer. An immigration officer may visit you in jail. Do not answer questions or sign anything before talking to a lawyer. Read all papers fully. If you don't understand or cannot read the papers, say you need an interpreter.

Amendment IV

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Amendment VI

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.