What attracts police attention?

Generally speaking, anything out of the ordinary attracts police attention. The following are some examples:

  • Loud parties
  • Open containers of alcohol
  • The odor of marijuana
  • Traffic violations (speeding, weaving, running red lights)
  • Jay-walking
  • Appearing drunk in public
  • Acting nervous in response to the presence of police

How should I deal with police encounters?

If you are stopped by the police, be polite and respectful. The police make the decision whether to arrest you or not, and treating them with respect goes a long way in making the interaction end well for you.  Whatever you do, do not run, do not argue, and do not lie. These actions may be crimes in and of themselves, and can put your physical safety at risk. If you do not want to speak with the officer, ask calmly “am I free to go?” If you are free to go, leave slowly and in a polite and non-threatening manner. If you are not free to go, you are being detained, and you should understand your rights below...

What are my rights when dealing with police?

You have the right not to consent to searches. If an officer asks to search you or your property and you do not want them to, you should state calmly, “Officer, I do not consent to a search”. You have the right to avoid answering incriminating questions. If you wish not to answer questions, your should state “Officer, I respectfully decline to answer any questions”. If you consent to a search or make statements to the police, what they find and anything you say may be used to prosecute you for a crime.

What should I do if I am arrested?

If you are arrested, you should remain calm and quiet. Do not make any statement or argue with the officer. You may request a lawyer but that does not mean you will get one right away. In Iowa if you are arrested you will see the judge the next morning, and for minor offenses you will likely be released after you see the judge. If you have the opportunity to enter a plea, always plead not guilty. If you haven’t already, contact a lawyer as soon as you are released from jail.