An individual is stopped by police and is asked to produce their license and registration. The law enforcement official runs their information, returns and announces, “We have checked you out, and everything looks good. You are free to go.” The average person imagining themselves in this scenario might think it’s second nature- “If I am free to go, then I would go.” Unfortunately, sometimes even after the license and registration have been returned, the officer will often ask, “Do you mind if we search your vehicle? Do you mind answering a few questions?”

It is imperative to always keep the following admonition in mind, during any and every police encounter. The advice is relatively simple, but extremely vital- the most important thing to do in any police encounter is make sure that you end or terminate said encounter as soon as possible.

While this advice might seem easy to follow, many people in these situations find themselves complying with the officer’s requests. Considering their information came back okay, they may find themselves relaxed, and even put at ease by the officer. These overly cooperative individuals may proceed to answer questions that are unnecessary in the first place. Answers to questions posed by law enforcement always hold the risk for self-incrimination and may open the door to a search where something, to your surprise, is found.

As soon as you are free and cleared to leave, leave. I have heard too many accounts where an individual could have terminated a situation and went about their merry way, but instead found themselves having a casual conversation about this or that. When people engage in small talk, they become comfortable, and the next thing you know something has been said that could lead to a search. When it comes to dealing with law enforcement, it is best to not say anything. But if you do say something, say less of it.

I once heard a wise man say this, “the things that are easy to do are also easy not to do.” It is very easy to get your license and registration back and then move on with your day. Unfortunately, it is also just as easy to get your license and registration back, and subsequently be baited into small talk, or consent to a search. One of the most important things you can do in any police encounter is to end and terminate that encounter as soon as possible.

My name’s Corey Scott. If I can be of any further help to you, please feel free to call me, (317) 623-4546. Take great care.