If you have a police encounter in Kansas, it’s essential to know and exercise your rights. Those rights also apply if you’re questioned or stopped by any other state or federal law enforcement officers, such as the DEA, FBI, and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Knowing your rights is just the first step in protecting yourself. It’s also important to understand how to handle police encounters in Kansas.
Every citizen has specific rights guaranteed by the U.S. and Kansas Constitutions. While court decisions require law enforcement to notify you of those rights at a particular point during an encounter, you always have those rights and can exercise them at any time. You do not have to wait until the police advise you of your rights to assert them.
The Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution gives you the right to remain silent during any police encounter. You can decline to answer questions and make statements. The right applies to communicative evidence as well.
The Sixth Amendment of the Constitution includes several rights relating to criminal prosecution. They include the right to have legal counsel present during police questioning. The provisions entitle you to have a lawyer present from the very beginning of an interrogation and throughout a criminal proceeding.
The Fourth Amendment of the Constitution protects you against unreasonable searches and seizures. The right applies to searches of your person, your home, and your vehicle. You have the right to decline to consent to any police search. In fact, you should never consent to a search.
Unless you consent to a search, the police must obtain a search warrant, except under specific situations covered by laws and court decisions. Law enforcement must have probable cause to secure a warrant. If police secure a warrant, you generally do not have a right to refuse to allow the search. However, the validity of a warrant and use of the evidence from the search can be challenged in a criminal proceeding.
There are some limitations on exercising your rights during a police encounter. For example, under Kansas law, you may need to identify yourself when requested to do so by an officer. But before you provide any identifying information, confirm that you are giving the information because you are being required to do so.
Other laws may limit your rights in a particular situation, such as DUI. Kansas has implied consent laws that require a person operating a vehicle within the state to submit to chemical testing for DUI. The implied consent rules apply if police have reasonable grounds to believe a driver is under the influence, make an arrest, and request the driver to submit to one or more breath, blood, or urine tests.
State court decisions provide that a driver can refuse the test, which forces the police to secure a warrant. However, if you refuse testing, you may face penalties that include license suspension, revocation, or restriction, as well as evidentiary consequences and license fees.
In connection with your right to refuse consent to a search, a police officer may be able to conduct a pat-down of your clothing if they suspect that you have a firearm, another weapon, or unlawful object. If that situation arises, you should make it clear that you are not consenting to any search by the police. In most cases, refusing consent requires police to secure a search warrant. One exception applies to persons on parole. In that situation, police can search the person’s home without a warrant or consent.
If you encounter police in any situation, it’s important to remain calm. You can ask the officer if you are free to leave. If the answer is yes, you should immediately walk away. A common practice by law enforcement officers is to tell you that you are free to leave and then immediately ask if he/she can just talk to you or ask you one other question. Anything you say at this point will still be used against you, but now, you are doing so “voluntarily” and are no longer invoking your rights. If the reply is negative, you should immediately assert your rights to remain silent, have a lawyer present, and refuse consent to any search. As mentioned previously, you may be required to provide identification if requested.
You should understand that anything you say during a police encounter can be used against you in a criminal proceeding. That is true even if you assert your rights. There are exceptions, however. If police deny you the right to counsel or violate any of your rights or laws applicable to police stops, searches, and arrest, your legal counsel may have a basis to contest admission of evidence obtained by police.
Circumstances of police encounters vary greatly. You may be stopped on the street, in your vehicle, at your home, or at another location inside or outside a building. Your rights apply in all these situations. Other than identifying yourself, you should politely decline to answer questions, refuse to provide consent to a search, and demand to have a lawyer present. After you assert those rights, you should not make any statements or answer any questions, regardless of what the officer says to you.
If you are arrested, you do not have the right to refuse or obstruct the arrest, even if you think the arrest is unjustified or unfair. You should simply reiterate your rights and insist on having a lawyer present. If you cannot afford a lawyer, the law requires one to be provided for you.
Our team of criminal defense attorneys at Sloan Law Firm takes pride in their comprehensive experience, knowledge, and skill in matters of Kansas criminal law. We aggressively and relentlessly pursue your case to find the best resolution. We negotiate vigorously with prosecutors and don’t hesitate to take a case to trial if necessary to get a fair result.
If you have a police encounter or are arrested, under investigation, or being questioned by police, please contact us to discuss your situation. We represent clients for all types of Kansas criminal charges.