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2014 in Review: Top 5 Blog Posts About Dealing With Police

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By Daniel Taylor, Esq. on December 29, 2014 11:19 AM

If you've ever watched the television show "Law & Order," you know from the show's opening sequence that "In the criminal justice system, the people are represented by two separate yet equally important groups: the police, who investigate crime; and the district attorneys, who prosecute the offenders."

Police are tasked with enforcing the law, but they are also subject to it. In a year marked by controversy over the use of deadly force by police against unarmed subjects in Missouri, New York City, Ohio, and elsewhere, there were many questions regarding the extent of police powers in 2014.

Here are the five most popular posts from 2014 about dealing with the police:

  1. Is It Legal to Videotape, Record Police? -- Courts have consistently ruled that citizens generally have the right to videotape or record police in a public space as long as they are not interfering with law enforcement activities.
  2. When Can Police Place You in Handcuffs? -- You don't necessarily have to be placed under arrest to be handcuffed by police. Officers may also handcuff a person when executing a warrant or for officer safety, among other situations.
  3. If You Insult a Cop, Will You Get Arrested? -- Though insulting a cop may not always get you arrested -- federal courts have ruled, for example, that giving a police officer the middle finger is not a crime -- it may give officers the motivation to scrutinize your vehicle or behavior for other potential criminal violations.
  4. Can You Refuse to Identify Yourself to Police Officers? -- In some states, you may be required to provide your legal name to police officers when they request it.
  5. When Police Want to Question You, Can You Say 'No'? -- Although police may not always tell you that you can decline to speak to them, individuals generally have the right not to answer police questions.

For more information on your individual rights against illegal searches, police questioning, and other law enforcement actions, check out FindLaw's section on Criminal Rights.

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