Everyone knows someone who would run from the police. You're walking down the street, minding your own business. Maybe you're with some friends, or maybe you're walking solo. Out of nowhere you see an unfamiliar person approach you. As they get closer you notice that the person is actually a police officer.
The officer is dressed in full uniform. He's also wearing dark shades, so you can't see his full facial expression. He approaches you like he's seen you somewhere before, but you've never seen this officer a day in your life. The officer point's you out and says "hey, do you mind if I ask you a few questions?" At this point you freeze. You don't know whether you are going to be arrested or whether he's just asking a simple question. His hand then slowly reaches towards his gun, and you panic. Within a split second you have to make a decision. Should you stay where you are, or should you run from the police?
Here's the thing: you only get one chance to run from the police. That means that you can't mess up. If you are athletic or a track star, I wouldn't blame you if you wanted to take your chances. For everyone else who is not fast at running, there are still some benefits to not running from the police. From a criminal defense lawyer's standpoint, here are the top 5 reasons why you should not run from the police:
1. Police Officers Are More Likely to Use Physical Force If You Run.
"Stop Resisting!" It's the infamous line that you hear from police officers when someone is getting arrested- whether or not the person is actually resisting arrest. When you run from the police, 99% of the time you will be chased. A smart police officer will not try to chase you alone. They will request backup help on their radio. While requesting backup officers, they will describe your appearance and the direction you are headed in. Before you know it, you'll be surrounded on all sides by police officers.
When police officers come into contact with you after you run, they usually end up using more force than necessary. This could mean that you get tackled or even pretty bruised up because so many officers are trying to get you in handcuffs at once. It may not be worth the physical (and emotional) scarring especially when officers can be unpredictable during an arrest.
2. You've Just Made Yourself a Flight Risk.
If you run from the police and still get caught, chances are you are going to be arrested and charged with a new crime. Even when you didn't do anything wrong, most of the time police officers are able to come up with creative ways to charge you with something. Some common charges in these situations are resisting arrest, or assault on a police officer. If you are arrested, you will first be brought in front of a judge. The judge will decide whether to hold you in jail, or release you while your case is pending.
One of the things that most judges consider when deciding to release you is whether you are a flight risk. You are a flight risk if you have shown through past behaviors that you might try to run away and never show up to your court case. Judges do not like flight risks. If the judge thinks you are a flight risk, he or she may want to hold you in jail so that you don't run away. This is a terrible position to be in when you are trying to get out of jail, and another reason that will make you think twice about running from the police.
3. You Might Be Giving The Police The Right to Stop You.
A police officer cannot stop you unless they have the proper level of suspicion to do so. In Washington, D.C. for example, a police officer must first have reasonable suspicion that criminal activity is afoot before he or she can stop you. This means that to stop you, the officer must believe that something criminal is happening based on something he or she saw, or heard.
Sometimes running away from the police for no reason gives them reasonable suspicion to stop you. This means that whether or not you did anything wrong, just by running away you could now give the officer the right to chase you under the law. If you are chased by an officer, they will try to question you to find out why you ran. Having to explain that you were running for no reason is not where you want to be, especially if you did not do anything wrong.
4. The Police Will Think You Have Something To Hide.
Whenever you see someone running away, your natural instinct is to want to run too. You assume that the person is running because something is wrong or they are in danger. Well, officers think the same way too. If they see you running, they will also think that something is wrong, or that you have something to hide.
The last thing that you want is for an officer to think that you are hiding something illegal. If you run and they are able to catch you, they will likely search you. At a minimum, they will try to pat you down. Most of the time they assume that you either have a gun or illegal drugs on you. If you do have something that don't want the police officer to see, you might be better off playing it cool. Try walking away instead of running. Try not to act like you are in a rush. Just don't let the officer see you sweating.
5. Your Life Could Depend on It.
It's no secret that anything can go wrong if you have a run in with the police. You have probably heard of these tragedies many times in the news. A police officer wants to talk to you, you get into an argument, then all of a sudden someone gets injured or killed. We've seen this happen with George Floyd
, Michael Brown
, and Walter Scott
to name a few.
If you have loved ones, think about whether your actions could put yourself in a situation where you won't be able to see them again. This is not to say that getting hurt by a police officer is ever your fault. Even though you can't control what an officer does, you can control your own actions. If not running from the police could keep you safe, would you do it? Anytime you have a run in with the police, your goal should be to make it home to your friends and family at the end of the day. This means you may have to swallow your pride and do what they tell you to do. If the officer harasses you or violates your rights, you can always sue them later. Whatever you do, just make sure that you are alive to see the victory.
If you or a loved one has been charged with a crime in D.C. contact us
or call (202) 403- 2292 to speak with a qualified D.C Criminal Defense Lawyer
about your rights.