legal rights

7 Things Every US Citizen Should Know About Their Legal Rights

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In 2016, police arrested over 10 million people in the U.S. alone.

Plenty of them are now serving jail time or had to pay a fine. But the problems don’t stop there when someone commits a crime.

Trouble with the law can create a lifetime of difficulty. Many former convicts can’t find jobs, and readjusting to life is hard.

To avoid this, you need to know the law of the land. You could commit a crime without even knowing it.

And while you hope you never end up in the clink, the future is unpredictable. Lucky for you, we’ve compiled a list of the 7 things legal rights you need to know.

If you read these, you should be able to avoid an arrest. And even if you have broken the law, knowing your rights could keep you out of jail.

Read on to learn more.

1. Taking Photos in Public

Because of the first amendment, you have the legal right to take photos anywhere in public. This has limitations, like the bathroom and other private places, but you can for the most part.

You’re not free from any responses to your photos though. There’s a good chance that a police officer would question a 40-year-old man taking photos of kids in a park.

2. An Officer’s Request

It’s unfortunate that officers are often scary to people who don’t know what they did wrong. In these situations, it can be easy to give the officer whatever they want.

But this is not a good practice, and it can lead to bad consequences. And even if you did something wrong, officers aren’t allowed to infringe on your rights.

Instead, you should know your rights when an officer asks to do something. Some requests are mandatory, and others give you a choice. But most officers phrase all requests like demands.

For example, officers can ask for your license and registration. But that’s it! If they ask any other questions, you should feel free to say no.

3. Searching Your Car

Nobody likes it when they get pulled over, but it happens to the best of us. When it does, you need to know your rights.

While it’s unlikely to happen unless you’re breaking the law, an officer may request to search your car. If an officer requests, say no. They don’t have a right to search.

There is an exception to this. If an officer has probable cause, they can search your car, and they don’t even have to ask you.

Officers have probable cause when they have evidence to believe you are doing a crime. For example, if you have marijuana in your backseat, an officer can search your car.

Officers will believe they have probable cause and don’t. Unless you have something illegal, you may have to submit to a search. This is a last resort though.

4. Searching Your House

Like a car search, police officers can search your house as well. This is not an everyday occurrence, but it is a possibility that it could happen.

In general, a judge must give a police officer a warrant to search someone’s home. This process can take some time, and the officer or officers must explain why they want to search.

There are four exceptions to needing a warrant though. In these cases, officers can come in without one.

  1. Consent – If an officer asks to search your house and you say yes, they have the legal right to go inside. In these cases, it’s always best to say no. An officer should have a warrant if they want to come inside.
  2. Arrest – Police officers can search your property if they arrest you. This is to help them find any other evidence or accomplices.
  3. Plain View – Imagine a police officer is walking in your neighborhood. They look around and see an illegal item inside your house. In this case, the officer has the right to search.
  4. Dire Circumstances – If you run away from the police and hide in your house, they do not have to get a warrant to go inside. And if they think a bomb is about to explode in a house, a warrant is not necessary.

5. Using Your Phone While Driving

Almost every state has some type of ban on phone usage while driving. The only exception is Montana as they have no bans.

All states except three have a complete ban on texting while driving. Missouri and Arizona place bans on younger people alone.

Sixteen states have bans on talking on the phone and driving. The punishments vary by state. Make sure to see what yours are.

If you’re caught using your phone, chances are nobody will arrest you, but you might get a fine.

6. The Right to Remain Silent

If an officer is speaking to you, you have the right to remain silent. The law requires police officers to tell you this when they arrest you.

But you also have the same right before the arrest. Invoking this right could save you from saying something incriminating.

When you choose to stay silent, you have to tell the officer that you are. You can say something as simple as, “I’m invoking my right to remain silent.”

7. You Can Get A Lawyer for Free

If you go to jail, you won’t have to spend money on a lawyer if you can’t afford one. The government pays court-appointed lawyers to work for you.

Now you don’t worry about the cost of a lawyer. This should be a relief for you, but getting out of jail after an arrest may be harder.

Bail bondsmen will help you get out of jail until your lawyer can get the judge off your back. Don’t know how bail bondsmen work?

Know Your Legal Rights

Now that you know the most important legal rights, you should be ready for anything. Don’t let yourself get caught in a bad situation.

Did you like this article? Check out more on our site. And if you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.

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