Why do you need a lawyer when standing before a judge? You need one because they’re well versed in the nuances of law when those laws may or may not infringe on your inalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Try as you might, we can virtually guarantee you don’t have the expertise that they do — unless, of course, you’re a lawyer yourself. That’s why we’ve put together this short list of rights you should know you can exercise at will.
- Depending on the state wherein you reside, there might be different relevant bans on the amount of talking you can do on your phone. Most states ban handheld phones outright, while others ban any talking on the phone at all. What’s most important? Never text. It’s illegal almost everywhere and the police have little tolerance when they catch someone in the act.
- Another right you might have is to record someone with whom you’re having a conversation. That might surprise you based on what you see on TV, but remember: just because you have the right doesn’t mean that the recording is admissible in court. New York, for example, is a one party consent state. That means as long as you’re taking part in the conversation, you have the right to record anyone. Other states have two party consent rules.
- Taking photographs and recording videos is a little murkier. Sure, in most situations you’re okay as long as you’re in a public place, but there are limits — especially if your actions can be deemed harassment. For example, you cannot start taking photos of a woman’s underside and expect you won’t be arrested for it. Also, it’s perfectly legal in all fifty states to record police during their routine duties.
- You have the right to remain silent — and you also have the right to refuse a search without probable cause. You also have the right to ask a police officer whether they have made a request or an order. If they make a specific order, the order needs to be based on the law. If it isn’t, you have the right to defend your rights with force (even though we strongly recommend you don’t).
- You should always check state laws regarding renting an apartment from a landlord. Check fees with which you can be charged. Check whether or not you should be receiving interest on a deposit. Check how your state treats that safety deposit — you might be entitled to its return in full no matter what.