What Are My Rights If I'm Stopped by Police in Utah?

Let’s say you were stopped by police on a city street or highway in Utah. Whether you know you committed a traffic violation or have no idea why you were stopped, the fact is still the same: you have rights when you’re interacting with law enforcement in Utah. The more you know about your rights, the better your situation will be, especially if you are wrongfully accused or coerced into saying or doing something for which you have the right to refuse.

Here are six things you should know about your rights in Utah. Keep in mind, these are general guidelines that may vary with each situation when stopped by the police.

1. You must comply with a few requests.

Of the things law enforcement may ask, you are required to comply with the following:

Additionally, refusing to take a chemical test can result in the suspension of your driving privilege. You must comply with that request.

2. You do not have to disclose the details regarding your travel plans or itinerary.

You are not required to provide information or make a statement beyond providing your basic identifying information. So, if an officer asks where you are headed, where you came from, or why you are on the road, you don’t need to share that information.

3. You can refuse a request to search your vehicle.

If an officer requests to personally search your vehicle or to allow a dog to search the outside or inside of your vehicle, you can deny their request. You are not required to provide access to your vehicle.

Keep in mind that officers are good at convincing you into allowing your vehicle to be searched and to make statements that may potentially incriminate yourself. You can, and in most cases should, politely decline an officer's request to search. You should also calmly and courteously refuse to provide any information. Try not to escalate the situation by being argumentative.

4. You are not required to sit in an officer's car unless or until you are formally placed under arrest.

This one may seem like a no-brainer, but a police officer may try to get you to sit in the car and wait while he or she attempts to search your car. You have the right to stay out of a police car if you are not under arrest.

5. You are better off saying less.

This one is well known, but it is so important to remember. It can often feel like staying silent is hurting your case. For example, you may think you can talk your way out of trouble, but it generally doesn’t work. Police officers don’t make the final decision about what charges may or may be brought against you. Instead, prosecutors make the final call about charging decisions. So while you’re talking with police, your best bet is to stay silent and wait to speak with an experienced defense lawyer who can help you negotiate with the prosecutor.

If you are confrontational and combative, law enforcement officers may use that to justify a search and arrest. Save your argument for when you are off the road. Firmly saying "no" in a respectful manner generally sets the case up for the best legal result.

6. Your rights are protected by amendments.

There are three main Constitutional amendments that guarantee your rights if you are stopped by police.

Fourth Amendment

This is the amendment that gives you grounds to deny a search of your vehicle. It guards against unreasonable searches and seizures, but it does allow a search if a judge issues a search warrant supported by probable cause. Unfortunately, probable cause isn’t always a clear rule, so a warrant may be issued based on an officer’s word that probable cause exists. However, an experienced defense lawyer can fight for your rights and argue against that assumption in court. This is where having a lawyer is crucial.

Fifth Amendment

You may be familiar with this amendment as the one that guarantees you the right to remain silent. But the Fifth Amendment also protects you against abuse of government authority in a legal proceeding.

Sixth Amendment

Again, you may be familiar with the rights ensured by this amendment, but this gives you the right to an attorney. And, of course, if you can’t afford to hire one, the court must appoint a lawyer to represent you.

If you believe your rights have been violated by law enforcement in Utah, you need the help of an experienced criminal defense lawyer. The legal team at Brown, Bradshaw & Moffat will fight for your rights and help you defend against unreasonable charges and accusations.

​Call 801- 532-5297 today for a free consultation.

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