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Know Your Rights

Note: The information in this page is not intended as legal advice.  It was produced by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in June 2010.
We rely on the police to keep us safe and treat us all fairly, regardless of race, ethnicity, national origin, or religion. This page provides tips for interacting with the police and understanding your rights and responsibilities.

Your Rights

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

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

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

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

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

Your Responsibility

•  Do stay calm and be polite. Do not interfere with or obstruct the police.

•  Do not lie or give false documents.

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

•  Do remember the details of the encounter.

•  Do file a written complaint or call this Office if you feel your rights have been violated.

Know Your Rights

What to Do in Special Situations

Below is a list of special circumstances involving police, immigration agents, or the FBI.

Click “More information” for a more detailed description about your rights and responsibilities (how to act, what to do) in any of them.



The Police or Immigration Agents Come to Your Home

You do not have to let them in unless they have certain kinds of warrants. You have the right to remain silent.

More information >

You are Arrested

Do not resist arrest. Say you wish to remain silent and ask for a lawyer immediately.

More information >

You are Contacted by the FBI

You do not have to answer any questions. Speak to a lawyer first.

More information >

You are Questioned About Your Immigration Status

You have the right to remain silent and do not have to discuss your immigration or citizenship status. Do not lie about your citizenship status or provide fake documents.

More information >

You are Stopped for Questioning

Stay calm, ask if you are free to leave, you have the right to remain silent, and you do not have to consent to a search.

More information >

You are Stopped in Your Car

Stop the car in a safe place as quickly as possible, show police your driver’s license, registration and proof of insurance. Both drivers and passengers have the right to remain silent.

More information >

You are Taken into Immigration (or “ICE”) Custody

You have the right to a lawyer, but the government does not have to provide one for you. Contact your consulate.

More information >

You Feel Your Rights Have Been Violated

Remember: police misconduct cannot be challenged on the street. Don’t physically resist officers or threaten to file a complaint. File a written complaint afterwards.

More information >