Knowing some basic laws is extremely helpful when your rights come into question. Meghan Belnap, a guest author, briefly illustrates a few laws that should be common knowledge:
As U.S. residents, most of us are law abiding citizens, but courts are filled with plaintiffs and defendants who are bewildered when they find themselves in legal entanglements. Listed below are a few useful laws you should know in regards to legal issues of the day.
1. Rules for Recording Police
Laws governing the use of recording devices were enacted to protect citizens against eavesdropping and other intrusive acts. Since cell phones are widely available, most people have a recording device at the ready. Thirty-eight states currently allow citizens to record police in action, as long as they don’t interfere with police at work. You may be unfairly detained for other issues by police officers afterwards, but you will not be in violation of the law for recording the incident.
2. DUI Checkpoints
Sobriety checkpoints are used to give police officers the opportunity to engage with drivers in order to detect the smell of alcohol or discern intoxicated behavior. They may not search you or your car unless there is probable cause or you agree to the search.
3. Stop and Frisk
Police may briefly detain you if there is a reasonable suspicion that you have or will commit a crime. You do have the right to ask if you are under arrest after a light pat down in search of weapons. If you are not placed under arrest for suspicion of a crime, you should ask if you are free to leave. Do not argue or run away from the officers because this might be perceived as suspicious behavior.
4. Identity Theft
If you become a victim of identity theft you have the right to request that the major credit reporting companies place a fraud alert on your credit report. This is your protection against being the victim of additional fraudulent activity. If you suspect that someone signed your name to a document or made unauthorized changes to important papers, you should enlist the services of a forensic handwriting expert.
5. Cell Phone Privacy for Students
Federal laws and most state laws protect students’ right to privacy in regard to cell phone seizures. Search of cell phone content including text messages, web pages and games viewed by school officials is rarely permitted by law.
America’s legal system is dynamic with laws constantly being challenged and revised as more complex issues governing our social contract with one another arise. Please stay informed!