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Insight Denton: Has SB4 changed what I should do if stopped by police?

No. A federal judge has blocked enforcement of most provisions in Senate Bill 4, the state's so-called "sanctuary cities" law, but the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution also protects everyone's right to due process. The American Civil Liberties Union offers these reminders when you are being detained by law enforcement: 

If you are stopped by police, immigration agents or the FBI

  • You have the right to remain silent. If you wish to remain silent, tell the officer.

  • Stay calm. Don’t run. Don’t argue, resist or obstruct the police. Keep your hands where police can see them.

  • Ask if you are free to leave. If yes, calmly and silently walk away.

  • You do not have to consent to a search of yourself or your belongings.

If you are stopped in your car

  • Stop the car in a safe place as quickly as possible. Turn off the car, turn on the internal light, open the window part way, and place your hands on the wheel.

  • Upon request, show police your driver’s license, registration and proof of insurance.

  • If an officer asks to search your car, you can refuse. But if police believe your car contains evidence of a crime, they can search it without your consent.

  • Both drivers and passengers have the right to remain silent. If you’re a passenger, you can ask if you’re free to leave. If yes, silently leave.

If the police come to your home

  • You do not have to let them in unless they have a warrant.

  • Ask them to show you the warrant. Officers can only search the areas and for the items listed on the warrant. An arrest warrant allows police to enter the home of the person listed on the warrant if they believe the person is inside.

If you are arrested

  • Do not resist arrest.

  • Say you wish to remain silent and ask for a lawyer. If you can’t afford a lawyer, you have the right to a free one.

  • Don’t say anything, sign anything or make any decisions without a lawyer.

  • You have the right to make a local phone call. The police cannot listen if you call a lawyer.

If 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 with police, immigration agents or any other officials. You do not have to answer questions about where you were born, whether you are a U.S. citizen or how you entered the country. (There are separate rules at airports and international borders, as well as for individuals on certain visas).

  • If you are not a U.S. citizen and an immigration agent requests your immigration papers, you must show them if you have them with you. If you are over 18, carry your immigration documents with you at all times. If you do not have immigration papers, say you want to remain silent.

  • Do not lie about your citizenship status or provide fake documents.

Visit the website for more information, including free downloads for printable versions of your rights in English, Spanish and other languages.  

What do you want to know? Email your question for Insight Denton to pheinkel-wolfe@dentonrc.com.