Know Your Rights


1. You have the right to remain silent. If you wish to exercise that right, say so out loud.

2. You have the right to refuse to consent to a search of yourself, your car or your home.

3. If you are not under arrest, you have the right to calmly leave.

4. You have the right to a lawyer if you are arrested. Ask for one immediately.

5. Regardless of your immigration or citizenship status, you have constitutional rights.

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1. Do stay calm and be polite.

2. Do not interfere with or obstruct the police.

3. Do not lie or give false documents.

4. Do prepare yourself and your family in case you are arrested.

5.Do remember the details of the encounter.

6. Do file a written complaint or call your local ACLU if you feel your rights have been violated.

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We rely on the police to keep us safe and treat us all fairly, regardless of race, ethnicity, national origin or religion.


If government agents question you, it is important to understand your rights. You should be careful about what you say when approached by law enforcement officials. If you give answers, they can be used against you in a criminal, immigration, or civil case. The ACLU's Know Your Rights booklet provides effective and useful guidance in a user-friendly question and answer format. The booklet addresses what rights you have when you are stopped, questioned, arrested, or searched by law enforcement officers. This booklet is for citizens and non-citizens with extra information for non-citizens in a separate section.


Note: Some state laws may vary. Separate rules apply at checkpoints and when entering the U.S. (including at airports).

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Stay calm. Don't run. Don't argue, resist or obstruct the police, even if you are innocent or police are violating your rights. Keep your hands where police can see them. You do not have to answer any questions. You can say, “I do not want to talk to you” and walk away calmly. Or, if you do not feel comfortable doing that, you can ask if you are free to go. If the answer is yes, you can consider just calmly and silently walking away. Do not run from the officer.

If the officer says you are not under arrest, but you are not free to go, then you are being detained. Being detained is not the same as being arrested, though an arrest could follow.

The police can "pat down" the outside of your clothing only if they have “reasonable suspicion” (i.e., an objective reason to suspect) that you might be armed and dangerous (carrying a weapon). If they search any more than this, say clearly, “I do not consent to a search.” If they keep searching anyway, do not physically resist them. You should not physically resist, but you have the right to refuse consent for any further search. If you do consent, it can affect you later in court.

You do not need to answer any questions if you are detained or arrested, except that the police may ask for your name once you have been detained, and you can be arrested in some states for refusing to provide it. If you are under arrest, you have a right to know why. You have the right to remain silent and cannot be punished for refusing to answer questions. If you wish to remain silent, tell the officer out loud. (Non-citizens should see Section IV of the booklet above for more information on this topic.)


Stop the car in a safe place as quickly as possible. Turn off the car, turn on the internal light, open the window part way and keep your hands on the wheel where the police can see them. Upon request, you must show your drivers license, registration and proof of insurance if you are asked for these documents. Officers can also ask you to step outside of the car, and they may separate passengers and drivers from each other to question them and compare their answers, but no one has to answer any questions. Both drivers and passengers have the right to remain silent.

If you are a passenger, you can ask if you are free to leave. If the officer says yes, sit silently or calmly leave. Even if the officer says no, you have the right to remain silent.

If an officer or immigration agent asks to look inside your car, you can refuse to consent to the search. The police cannot search your car unless you give them your consent, which you do not have to give, or unless they have “probable cause” to believe (i.e., knowledge of facts sufficient to support a reasonable belief) that criminal activity is likely taking place, that you have been involved in a crime, or that you have evidence of a crime in your car then your car can be searched without your consent. If you do not want your car searched, clearly state that you do not consent. The officer cannot use your refusal to give consent as a basis for doing a search.


Do not resist arrest, even if you believe the arrest is unfair. The officer must advise you of your constitutional rights to remain silent, to an attorney, and to have an attorney appointed if you can't pay for a lawyer (you have the right to a free one). You should exercise all these rights, even if the officers don’t tell you about them. Do not tell the police anything except your name. Anything else you say can and will be used against you.

You do not have to answer any questions or volunteer any information. Say you wish to remain silent and ask for a lawyer immediately. Repeat this request to every officer who tries to talk to or question you. You should always talk to a lawyer before you decide to answer any questions. Don't give any explanations or excuses. Don't say anything, sign anything or make any decisions without a lawyer.

Within a reasonable amount of time after your arrest or booking you have the right to a local phone call. Law enforcement officers may not listen to a call you make to your lawyer, but they can listen to calls you make to other people. You must be taken before a judge as soon as possible—generally within 48 hours of your arrest at the latest. Prepare yourself and your family in case you are arrested. Memorize the phone numbers of your family and your lawyer. Make emergency plans if you have children or take medication.

Special considerations for non-citizens: - Ask your lawyer about the effect of a criminal conviction or plea on your immigration status. - Don't discuss your immigration status with anyone but your lawyer. - While you are in jail, an immigration agent may visit you. Do not answer questions or sign anything before talking to a lawyer. - Read all papers fully. If you do not understand or cannot read the papers, tell the officer you need an interpreter.(See Section IV for information about arrests for noncriminal immigration violations.).


You have the right to remain silent and do not have to discuss your immigration or citizenship status with police, immigration agents or any other officials. You do not have to answer questions about where you were born, whether you are a U.S. citizen, or how you entered the country. (Separate rules apply at international borders and airports, and for individuals on certain non-immigrant visas, including tourists and business travelers.)

If you are not a U.S. citizen and an immigration agent requests your immigration papers, you must show them if you have them with you. If you are over 18, carry your immigration documents with you at all times. If you do not have immigration papers, say you want to remain silent.

Do not lie about your citizenship status or provide fake documents.


If the police or immigration agents come to your home, you do not have to let them in unless they have certain kinds of warrants.

Ask the officer to slip the warrant under the door or hold it up to the window so you can inspect it. A search warrant allows police to enter the address listed on the warrant, but officers can only search the areas and for the items listed. An arrest warrant allows police to enter the home of the person listed on the warrant if they believe the person is inside. A warrant of removal/deportation (ICE warrant) does not allow officers to enter a home without consent.

Even if officers have a warrant, you have the right to remain silent. If you choose to speak to the officers, step outside and close the door.


If an FBI agent comes to your home or workplace, you do not have to answer any questions. Tell the agent you want to speak to a lawyer first.

If you are asked to meet with FBI agents for an interview, you have the right to say you do not want to be interviewed. If you agree to an interview, have a lawyer present. You do not have to answer any questions you feel uncomfortable answering, and can say that you will only answer questions on a specific topic.


You have the right to a lawyer, but the government does not have to provide one for you. If you do not have a lawyer, ask for a list of free or low-cost legal services. You have the right to contact your consulate or have an officer inform the consulate of your arrest.

Tell the ICE agent you wish to remain silent. Do not discuss your immigration status with anyone but your lawyer.

Do not sign anything, such as a voluntary departure or stipulated removal, without talking to a lawyer. If you sign, you may be giving up your opportunity to try to stay in the U.S. Remember your immigration number ("A" number) and give it to your family. It will help family members locate you.

Keep a copy of your immigration documents with someone you trust.


Remember: police misconduct cannot be challenged on the street. Don't physically resist officers or threaten to file a complaint. Write down the officer’s badge number, name, patrol car numbers, which agency the officers were from, or other identifying information. You have a right to ask the officer for this information.

Try to find witnesses and get their names, phone numbers, and any other contact information.

If you are injured, seek medical attention and take pictures of the injuries as soon as you can (but seek medical attention first).