Being stopped by police in North Carolina can be a terrifying experience. It is easy to become confused and say or do the wrong thing when you are facing law enforcement officials who are accusing you of committing a crime. One of the most important things you can do is know your rights when you are stopped by police.

According to the American Civil Liberties Union, when you are stopped in public by the police, the first thing you should know is that you have the right to remain silent. You are not required to answer any questions you are asked, although it is a good idea to state out loud that you plan to exercise this right.

If police suspect you have a weapon, they may pat you down, but you do not have to allow a search of your belongings or yourself. While you may still be searched in certain situations, stating out loud that you know your rights may help you in any future legal proceedings related to the stop.

Everyone has the right to legal representation. Those who cannot afford their own attorney have the right to be appointed one by the government. You do not have to face any part of the arrest process without an advocate on your side.

While you do have certain rights when it comes to being stopped by police, there can be mistakes made in the heat of the moment. Even if you feel you are being treated unfairly, you should stay calm when you are stopped. Do not obstruct, resist or run from officers. Do not give them false documents or statements and always keep your hands where they can be seen. If you feel your rights were violated, an attorney can help you navigate the process of filing a complaint.

This is for educational purposes and it should not be interpreted as legal advice.