Know your rights
Stopped by the police
From the website of the American Civil Liberties Union:
IF YOU ARE STOPPED FOR QUESTIONING
Stay calm. Don't run. Don't argue, resist or obstruct the police, even if you are innocent or police are violating your rights. Keep your hands where police can see them.
Ask if you are free to leave. If the officer says yes, calmly and silently walk away. If you are under arrest, you have a right to know why.
You have the right to remain silent and cannot be punished for refusing to answer questions. If you wish to remain silent, tell the officer out loud. In some states, you must give your name if asked to identify yourself.
You do not have to consent to a search of yourself or your belongings, but police may "pat down" your clothing if they suspect a weapon. You should not physically resist, but you have the right to refuse consent for any further search. If you do consent, it can affect you later in court.
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 or immigration agent asks to look inside your car, you can refuse to consent to the search. But if police believe your car contains evidence of a crime, your car can be searched without your consent.
Both drivers and passengers have the right to remain silent. If you are a passenger, you can ask if you are free to leave. If the officer says yes, sit silently or calmly leave. Even if the officer says no, you have the right to remain silent.
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. (Separate rules apply at international borders and airports, and for individuals on certain nonimmigrant visas, including tourists and business travelers.)
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.
From the Rhode Island Bank Tenant and Homeowner Association:
TENANTS HAVE RIGHTS
A new federal law protects most tenants living in foreclosed homes. If you are not a close relative of your landlord and your landlord was foreclosed upon, you now have these rights:
• The bank must give you 90 days written notice after the home is foreclosed before they can try to evict you
• If you have a lease, the bank must honor it. They can only try to evict you after the lease ends, or sooner if the bank has a buyer who plans on moving into your apartment
• Section 8 tenants cannot be evicted because of a foreclosure unless the bank has a buyer who plans on moving into your apartment
• Offer to pay rent to the bank. Do not spend your rent if the bank doesn’t take your money
• You do not have to move until the bank gets a court order to evict you
If you have questions or a bank is threatening to evict you in less than 90 days, know the numbers to call:
Housing Action: 521.1461 ex. 17
RI Coalition for the Homeless: 421.6458
RI Legal Services: 274-2652 and 1-800-662-5034
HOMEOWNERS HAVE RIGHTS TOO
If you are having trouble paying your mortgage because you have lost your job, had your hours cut, or have a bad loan, it is NOT YOUR FAULT. We have a right to our homes—we should not be punished for the bad economy by losing the place that we live.
WHY PAY A LOAN YOU CAN’T AFFORD?
Most people can qualify for help with their mortgages, even without a job.
DO NOT PAY SOMEONE TO WORK OUT YOUR LOAN FOR YOU
If you are having trouble paying your mortgage, do not pay a lawyer or loan counselor to talk to the bank. There are free, government-approved agencies which will work with you for no charge.
Call: The Housing Network: 521.1461
RI Housing Help Center: 457.1130
IF YOU LOSE YOUR HOME TO FORECLOSURE, YOU STILL HAVE RIGHTS!
The bank cannot evict you without bringing you to court and getting a judgment against you. You should not leave just because the bank forecloses. Stay as long as possible—moving out early only makes it easier for the banks!
From the website of the American Civil Liberties Union:
IF YOU ARE ARRESTED
Do not resist arrest, even if you believe the arrest is unfair.
Say you wish to remain silent and ask for a lawyer immediately. Don't give any explanations or excuses. If you can't pay for 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.
Prepare yourself and your family in case you are arrested. Memorize the phone numbers of your family and your lawyer. Make emergency plans if you have children or take medication.
Special considerations for non-citizens:
- Ask your lawyer about the effect of a criminal conviction or plea on your immigration status.
- Don't discuss your immigration status with anyone but your lawyer.
- While you are in jail, an immigration agent may visit you. Do not answer questions or sign anything before talking to a lawyer.
- Read all papers fully. If you do not understand or cannot read the papers, tell the officer you need an interpreter.
IF YOU ARE TAKEN INTO IMMIGRATION (OR "ICE") CUSTODY
You have the right to a lawyer, but the government does not have to provide one for you. If you do not have a lawyer, ask for a list of free or low-cost legal services.
You have the right to contact your consulate or have an officer inform the consulate of your arrest.
Tell the ICE agent you wish to remain silent. Do not discuss your immigration status with anyone but your lawyer.
Do not sign anything, such as a voluntary departure or stipulated removal, without talking to a lawyer. If you sign, you may be giving up your opportunity to try to stay in the U.S.
Remember your immigration number ("A" number) and give it to your family. It will help family members locate you.
Keep a copy of your immigration documents with someone you trust.
IF YOU FEEL YOUR RIGHTS HAVE BEEN VIOLATED
Remember: police misconduct cannot be challenged on the street. Don't physically resist officers or threaten to file a complaint.
Write down everything you remember, including officers' badge and patrol car numbers, which agency the officers were from, and any other details. Get contact information for witnesses. If you are injured, take photographs of your injuries (but seek medical attention first).
File a written complaint with the agency's internal affairs division or civilian complaint board. In most cases, you can file a complaint anonymously if you wish.
Call your local ACLU or visit www.aclu.org/profiling.