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What you should and shouldn't do if stopped by police

This fall, thousands of young people are flooding Connecticut's college campuses. Some young people away from home for the first time get caught up in a situation, whether they've done anything wrong or not, that attracts the police.

Whether it happens on the street, at a party, in your car or any other venue, it can be frightening and intimidating. On its website, Trinity College provides some important guidance to students about what to do if they're stopped by police.

This is advice that should be heeded by all Connecticut residents. Following it can help you protect your legal rights and prevent you from getting into any more legal jeopardy than you may already be in. Regardless of your immigration or citizenship status, you still are entitled to rights under the law.

Often, people are simply stopped for questioning. Don't make the situation worse by arguing with officers, resisting them and certainly not by running. Keep your hands visible to the officers. If they don't have reason to feel threatened, things will likely go better for everyone.

You can remain silent. However, make sure that you tell officers that you are invoking that right.

If police ask for your name and/or identification, provide that to them. If you are in your car, provide your driver's license, proof of insurance and vehicle registration if asked.

Police have the right to pat you down outside your clothing to ensure that you don't have a weapon. You can refuse any further search of your person. If you're in your vehicle, police may search it if they believe it contains evidence of criminal activity, including drugs.

If police place you under arrest, they have to tell you that and the reason for it. If they don't tell you that you're under arrest, ask if you may leave. If the officer says that you may, calmly leave. It's understandable to feel frustrated and angry about being stopped, but don't ask for trouble by venting your feelings at the scene.

Have some key telephone numbers memorized like those of family members and your attorney. So many of us have these numbers in our phones that we don't remember them. Don't count on being allowed access to your phone. If you're under arrest, don't provide any further information until an attorney is present.

Source: Trinity College, "If the Police Stop You," accessed Oct. 08, 2015

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