What Cops Can and Can’t Do in Illinois

When the police stop you, there are certain things they can and can’t do in Illinois based on your rights. Knowing about your rights and what to do during a police stop can help you determine how to appropriately handle the situation and protect yourself.

What if You’re Stopped by Police?

If the police stop you for any reason, such as a traffic stop, there are steps you should take that can help you avoid potential issues while staying within your rights.

Steps to Follow During Interactions With the Police

The following are some steps you can take when the police stop you in any situation:

  1. Avoid getting into any kind of argument with the police.
  2. Remain calm throughout the interaction and follow the officer’s instructions.
  3. Keep your hands out of your pockets and in view of the officer.
  4. Carefully control your body language, speech, and emotions.
  5. Don’t state any opinions about the incident, and avoid making any incriminating statements altogether.
  6. During questioning or an arrest, don’t resist, as this will only make the situation worse.

If you can, take steps to collect any available evidence in your favor. These items could include witness statements, your own written details about the facts involved in the incident, and photos or video footage of your injuries and the scene of the incident. Another element to keep track of is the arresting or questioning officers’ badge and car numbers, which may help identify them at a later point.

Additionally, you should seek medical attention as soon as possible if you sustained any injuries.

When to Get a Lawyer

You should ask for a lawyer as soon as officers arrest you. Officers are obligated to read your Miranda rights, which include the right to remain silent. Using this right and requesting an attorney is in your best interest, even if you are innocent. If the arresting officer neglects to read your rights, you should still request an attorney, and any evidence in a potential case could be inadmissible in court if this occurs.

People often make the mistake of speaking to police when they’re innocent in an attempt to absolve them of any wrongdoing, but inadvertently saying the wrong thing can lead to more trouble. Instead, ask for a lawyer to meet with him or her and discuss the situation before making any statement to the police.

Also, if you believe you are the victim of police brutality, you will also need to contact a Chicago police brutality lawyer as soon as possible to discuss a potential case.

Why It’s Important to Know Your Rights

To ensure that police officers and other law enforcement officials engage in fair conduct and don’t violate your rights, everyone should know their rights when interacting with the police in any capacity.

Knowing your own and the police’s rights can help you figure out whether an officer is in violation of your rights.

The Miranda Rights and Others

The Miranda rights are an important set of rights that police officers must read to arrestees upon making an arrest.

When reading the Miranda rights, police must inform the accused of the following:

  • The right to remain silent
  • Anything they say can and will be used against them in a court of law
  • The right to an attorney
  • If they cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed to them

Officers must read these rights when making an arrest, and the failure to do so will likely render any evidence presented to the court obsolete.

In accordance with Illinois failure to identify law, you don’t have to provide formal identification to police officers, but you must identify yourself to police officers if they have reasonable suspicion and believe you may have committed a crime or are in the process of doing so.

Identifying details you must give include your name, address, and a specific reason for your actions. However, you don’t need to provide an ID card, passport, or another form of written identification.

When Do the Police Have the Legal Right to Stop a Driver?

Generally, police officers can stop a driver if they have probable cause to believe that the driver has committed a crime or that a vehicle contains contraband. The circumstances leading to probable cause must provide sufficient grounds for obtaining a search warrant.

Depending on the nature of the stop, officers may also be able to search the vehicle. However, they must have legal justification to do so before conducting a search.

What Are the Penalties for Fleeing and Eluding Police in Illinois?

In the event of police stopping you for any reason, it’s crucial to avoid fleeing or eluding the police in any way. Attempts to flee or elude police in Illinois usually constitute criminal offenses in the form of Class A misdemeanors.

Under Illinois law, a Class A misdemeanor warrants a maximum penalty of $2,500 and court costs along with a jail sentence of up to one year. Additionally, the state will suspend your license automatically for six months, and any second offense involving the same level of misdemeanor will result in another suspension lasting a year.

If you repeat the offense again after the second offense, you could wind up with a Class 4 felony charge. If convicted, you could face up to a $25,000 fine and a three-year jail sentence. In fact, even a first-time offense could result in a Class 4 felony if the incident involves aggravating factors such as speeding, assault, or extensive property damage.

How Does the SAFE-T Act Work?

Illinois police laws have undergone a level of reform due to the implementation of the SAFE-T Act. The Act covers different aspects of policing, corrections, and pretrial to protect people’s rights.

Learning more about the Act can give you a better understanding of how it works and protects individuals.

Use of Force

One of the main areas that the SAFE-T Act covers is use of force. It has put standards in place for when police officers exert force and requires law enforcement officials to provide aid after the use of force.

In addition, the Act requires other officers to put a stop to any instances of excessive or unauthorized force. If the use of force takes place, it’s also mandatory for officials to report these instances to the FBI’s National Use of Force Database, and officers must also report any deaths that result from the use of force or while otherwise in police custody.

When Body Cameras Are Required

Another change that’s coming under the SAFE-T Act is the increased requirement for body cameras.

By 2025, all police departments in Illinois will need to fit officers with body cameras to record footage of officers’ conduct while on duty. Currently, the state’s biggest departments must have body cameras, but this rule will expand to all departments in the coming years.

Officers could also face legal consequences if they turn their body cameras on and off too frequently. However, simplified legislature may ensure that victims of crimes, community members, or witnesses to crimes can request officers to turn off body cameras without making officers in violation of the law in doing so.

What to Know About Police Brutality

Police brutality remains a serious issue in the U.S., including Illinois. However, legislature like the SAFE-T Act aims to help prevent instances of brutality and give individuals more rights to avoid excessive force.

What is police brutality, exactly? Specifically, police brutality refers to violations of human rights in the hands of law enforcement officials. Some examples of police brutality include racial abuse, physical assault, torture, and killing individuals during interactions with police.

If you want to learn more about how police brutality works and other aspects, read 10 interesting facts about police brutality.

How an Attorney Can Help

If the police stop and arrest you or exert excessive force, you may be able to take legal action with the help of an attorney.

Whenever you’re under arrest and placed into police custody, it’s important to speak with an attorney before speaking with law enforcement. Under the Miranda rights, you have both the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney, which can give you time to speak with a lawyer about your options and potential statements to police.

Additionally, a police brutality lawyer can provide representation in the event of police brutality of any kind, potentially leading to legal charges against the offending officers.

In any case, if you encounter the police and need legal assistance, it’s best to speak with an attorney with experience in these matters.

Knowing more about what cops can and can’t do in Illinois will help you determine how to proceed with any interactions with police. You’ll have a better understanding of your rights and the steps to take during police stops and arrests.

Chicago personal injury and workers’ compensation attorney Howard Ankin has a passion for justice and a relentless commitment to defending injured victims throughout the Chicagoland area. With decades of experience achieving justice on behalf of the people of Chicago, Howard has earned a reputation as a proven leader in and out of the courtroom. Respected by peers and clients alike, Howard’s multifaceted approach to the law and empathetic nature have secured him a spot as an influential figure in the Illinois legal system.

Years of Experience: More than 30 years
Illinois Registration Status: Active
Bar & Court Admissions: Illinois State Bar Association, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois, U.S. District Court, Central District of Illinois
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