Know Your Rights

After you have been stopped, questioned or searched:

  • Never make any statements to the police (except to identify yourself) without an attorney present. If you are in custody, you have the right to an attorney if you ask for one–even if you can't afford to pay. Avoid making statements about your arrest or ticket to friends or family, or online (email, Facebook, Twitter).
  • Write down everything about the incident ASAP, including officers' names and badge numbers, patrol car numbers and physical descriptions. Collect names and phone numbers of any potential witnesses. You can use this information to file a complaint about the officers' conduct, or if you are charged with anything you can provide it to your attorney.
  • If you are injured, take photos of the injuries as soon as possible, and make sure you get medical attention. Ask for copies of any medical treatment files.
  • To file a complaint against a police officer for unprofessional conduct, abuse of authority, degrading or insulting language, disrespect or use of physical force, speak with an attorney.
  • You may also request assistance from the ACLU of Virginia using our online intake form. Important: Our acceptance of your complaint is not a commitment to provide any legal services or representation.

Filming the Police:
You have the right to film, photograph or record police officers while they are engaged in law enforcement activity. However, remain a safe distance from any police encounter you are documenting so that you do not physically interfere with the police activity.
In many instances, police officers either do not know about your right to observe and record them, or they disregard those rights. Although your conduct may be lawful, recording an officer’s activities may result in arrest and could include physical injury.  If either of these occurs, please contact us using our online intake form or by phone at 804-644-8022.