Know Your Rights

ACLU Know Your Rights

General Advice:

  • Do not talk to anyone about your case, other than your Attorney or Public Defender staff.
  • Anyone else may later be forced to testify against you. This includes family and friends. Ask family and friends to respect this advice.
  • If you are in jail: Do not talk about your case on the jail telephone. All phone calls in jail are recorded. Do not speak to any other inmates. Any conversations you have can be used against you in court.
  • All mail that leaves or enters the jail is opened and read. If you write a letter to your attorney, write the words "Attorney-Client Mail" on the envelope.
  • If you are detained in a crime investigation, state clearly that you want to have an attorney present before and during any questioning. If law enforcement continues to question you after you request an attorney, repeat your request for an attorney

What to Do if You Are Contacted by Law Enforcement:

You do not have to answer any questions.

What to Say

“Am I free to go, officer?”

If You Are Detained

Your Rights

You have the right to refuse any searches of your person and property.

You have the right to remain silent.

What to Say

“I do not consent to this search.”

“I am going to remain silent.”

If You Are Arrested

Your Rights

You have the right to remain silent and the right to have a lawyer.

What to Say

“I am going to remain silent. I want to talk to a lawyer.”


Know your rights

Stay calm

Be observant

Be respectful



Argue, curse, or yell

Run from the police