¿Prefiero leer esto en español? Haga clic aqui

The info below can also be found on our free smartphone app. Download “Mobile Justice Oregon” the ACLU police watch app for Android. 


  • Stay calm and in control of your words, body language, and emotions. Anything you say or docan be used against you.

    • Do not argue with police or badmouth officers. If you complain or tell police they are wrong, do so in a non confrontational way that will not intensify the situation.
    • Keep your hands where police can see them.
    • Do not run.
    • Do not touch any police officer.
    • Do not resist physically even if you believe you are innocent.
  • You do not have to make any statements about the incident.
  • If arrested, ask for a lawyer immediately. Explaining your situation without a lawyer may harm your case.
  • You may ask for officers’ names, badge numbers, and business cards. Write these down along with patrol car numbers and remember physical descriptions.
  • You never have to consent to a search of yourself or your belongings, including your cell phone (or other electronic device), car, or house. Consenting to a search can affect your rights in court.
  • Try to find witnesses and write down their names and phone numbers.
  • If injured, take photos of the injuries, but get medical attention first. Ask for copies of your medical treatment files.
  • Write down everything you remember as soon as possible after the encounter.

If you have a police encounter, you can protect yourself


  • What you say to police is always important. Be polite at all times. Everything you say can be used against you.
  • You have the right not to speak. To exercise this right, say “I would like to remain silent.”
  • Do not interfere with or obstruct police - you can be arrested for doing so.
  • Police may stop and detain you briefly only with reasonable suspicion that you have committed, are committing, or are about to commit a crime or a violation. However, you do not have to stop unless police order you to. Unless ordered to stop, you may leave at any time, but should ask whether you are free to leave.
  • It is not illegal in Oregon to refuse to identify yourself, but police may detain you until they establish your identity. You can be charged with a crime if you provide false identification information.

    • You may refuse to provide your Social Security number.
    • You do not have to answer questions without a lawyer present. To exercise this right, say “I want to speak to a lawyer before answering any questions.”
    • You may be required to show immigration papers if you are not a U.S. citizen and are being detained or arrested for a crime. Under federal law, you are required to carry immigration documents at all times.
  • You do not have to consent to any search or seizure and cannot be arrested simply for refusing. This may not stop the search from happening but will protect your rights if you have to go to court.

    • If police threaten to get a warrant, you may tell them to get one. Police may be able to detain you until they obtain a warrant.
    • If searched without a warrant, do not resist physically. Say “I do not consent to this search.”
    • If police say they have a search warrant, ask to see it.
    • If asked to empty your pockets or your bag—even if the officer says you will not get in trouble—do not do it. Say “I do not consent to this search.”
    • Police may ask for consent to search or inquire about the presence of weapons and may pat down your clothing without consent if they have reason to believe you are carrying a weapon.
    • If any property is taken from you by police, you have the right to request a receipt.
  • You do not have to leave the vicinity with police unless you have been arrested.
  • Do not badmouth a police officer or run away, even if you believe what is happening is unfair. Doing so could lead to your arrest.
  • In many situations, police do not have to advise you of “Miranda” rights in order to use your statements in court.


  • Upon request, show your driver license, registration, and proof of insurance. In certain cases, your car can be searched without a warrant. To protect yourself later, say “I do not consent to this search.”
  • If suspected of drunk driving, you will be asked to take a breath-alcohol and coordination test. If you fail a test or refuse to take it, you will be arrested, your driver license may be suspended, and your car may be taken away.
  • If you are arrested, your car will be subject to a search.


  • Police can enter your home without permission if they have a warrant or in an emergency. If they say they have a warrant, you may ask to see it. Check that the warrant shows the correct address.
  • If arrested in your home or office, police can search you and the area immediately surrounding you or where evidence of criminal activity is in plain view.


  • You have the right to remain silent and the right to talk to a lawyer before talking to police. You do not have to tell police anything except your name and address. You do not have to give any explanations, excuses, or stories. You can make your defense later, in court, based on what you and your lawyer decide is best.
  • You do not have to say anything to police without speaking to a lawyer first. If you have a lawyer, you may ask to see your lawyer immediately. If you cannot afford a lawyer, you have the right to a free one once your case goes to court. You can ask police how to contact a lawyer.
  • Within a reasonable time after arrest or booking, ask police to contact a family member or friend. If permitted to make a phone call at the precinct, anything you say may be recorded or listened to.Never talk about the facts of your case over the telephone.
  • Do not make any decisions in your case or sign any statements until you have talked with a lawyer.


You have a constitutionally protected right to engage in peaceful protest in “traditional public forums” such as streets, sidewalks or parks. But in some cases the government can impose restrictions on this kind of activity by requiring permits. This is constitutional as long as the permit requirements are reasonable, and treat all groups the same no matter what the focus of the rally or protest.

The government cannot impose permit restrictions or deny a permit simply because it does not like the message of a certain speaker or group.

Generally, you have the right to distribute literature, hold signs, collect petition signatures, and engage in other similar activities while on public sidewalks or in front of government buildings as long as you are not disrupting other people, forcing passerby to accept leaflets or causing traffic problems.

Under the USA Patriot Act, non-US citizens who are not permanent residents can be investigated solely because of their First Amendment activities. Immigrants who choose to engage in a protest, march, or a demonstration should carry with them the telephone numbers of friends and relatives, as well as the telephone numbers of an immigration attorney or an immigrant advocacy organization.

Limitations on Speech

The First Amendment does not protect speech that is combined with the violation of established laws such as trespassing, disobeying or interfering with a lawful order by a police officer. Also unprotected are malicious statements about public officials and obscene speech.

Although an inflammatory speaker cannot be punished for merely arousing an audience, a speaker can be arrested for incitement if he/she advocates imminent violence or specifically provokes people to commit unlawful actions. 

Limitations on Action

Demonstrators who engage in civil disobedience – defined as non-violent unlawful action as a form of protest – are not protected under the First Amendment. People who engage in civil disobedience should be prepared to be arrested or fined as part of their protest activity.

If you endanger others while protesting, you can be arrested. A protest that blocks vehicular or pedestrian traffic is illegal without a permit.

You do not have the right to block a building entrance or physically harass people. The general rule is that free speech activity cannot take place on private property, including shopping malls, without consent of the property owner. You do not have the right to remain on private property after being told to leave by the owner.

If you feel that your rights have been violated, you may submit a Legal Request online or call us at 503-227-3186.

Updated October 2014