NLG Know Your Rights Booklet
A practical resource from the National Lawyers Guild for people interacting with law enforcement. Know your rights when confronted by FBI agents or the Department of Homeland Security. Includes information for non-citizens and minors. Read and download here.
CCR If an Agent Knocks Booklet
Federal law enforcement agencies like the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) have a dark history of targeting radical and progressive movements. Some of the dirty tricks they use against these movements include: the infiltration of organizations to discredit and disrupt their operations; campaigns of misinformation and false stories in the media; forgery of correspondence; fabrication of evidence; and the use of grand jury subpoenas to intimidate activists. Today’s activist must know and understand the threat posed by federal law enforcement agents and their tactics as well as several key security practices that offer the best protection.
The Center for Constitutional Rights created If an Agent Knocks to provide advice to people likely to be targeted by FBI agents or other federal investigators. This guide should be seen as a resource for the information needed to protect yourself and others from government investigation and to empower you to continue the struggle.
The Civil Liberties Defense Center has several resources for anyone living in the U.S., regardless of immigration status, who wants to know their rights.
Screen Reader Compatible CLDC Know Your Rights Pamphlet:
What to do if you are stopped by the police:
There are 3 distinct categories of police interference with a citizen’s liberties: Conversation, Detention, and Arrest. It is important to identify your situation so you know your rights, and remember, anything you say can and will be used against you! Stay calm and in control of your words and actions at all times.
Level I: Conversation
Police officers have the same right as any other citizen to approach you and inquire about circumstances of interest. However, absent any reasonable suspicion that you are involved in criminal activity, an officer cannot detain you.
You do not have to provide identification to an officer at this level unless you are in a motor vehicle. This includes non-US citizens. You do not have to provide any information to a police officer about your immigration status. You have the right to an interpreter at any time. Exercise this right and make sure you understand what is being asked of you.
You do not have to answer any questions. Minors (citizens under 18 years of age) do not have to answer any questions by police unless a parent or attorney is present. If you do answer questions, make sure any response you provide is correct.
Determine if you are in a Level 1 situation by asking if you are free to leave. If so, leave.
Level II: Detention
If an officer reasonably suspects you have been involved in a crime, they may detain you for questioning. You may invoked your 5th amendment rights and remain silent. You must provide identification upon request at this level (name, address, date of birth). Giving false information is a crime.
You do not have to consent to a search. However, if the police have probable cause or a warrant, your consent is not required. Even if this is the case, never verbally consent; simply repeat “I do not consent to this search.”
If the police say they have a warrant, ask to see it.
Police may pat down your clothing if they have a reasonable suspicion that you are carrying a concealed weapon; do not physically resist but make it clear that you do not consent to any further search.
What you choose to say to the police is important – it can be used against you later and can provide the police with probable cause to arrest you.
Police are allowed to lie to you.
Don’t run away even if you believe what is happening to you is unreasonable or unlawful; this may lead to your arrest and injury.
Remember officers’ names and badge numbers and write down everything about the incident as soon as possible.
Level III: Arrest
You have the right to remain silent – wait for your attorney before saying anything. Repeat this demand as often as necessary.
Ask for an attorney immediately upon being taken into custody.
If you refuse to provide a name and address while in custody, you will not be eligible for release or a court appointed attorney in most circumstances.
Within a reasonable time, the police must allow you to make a phone call to your attorney and they may not legally listen to that call – but assume that they will.