You probably know that in North Carolina police officers have the right to perform traffic stops and search vehicles if they have reasonable cause to suspect criminal wrongdoing. They also have the right to execute Terry stops, more commonly known as stop-and-frisks, on pedestrians.
It is illegal for officers of the law to halt individuals on the street based on their race, ethnicity, or suspected immigration status. It is important to remain composed and remember some important details if you are ever stopped by the police.
1. You have the right to remain silent
You may inform the policeperson(s) of your desire to remain silent and then do so. You also do not have to answer any questions asked.
2. You have the right to ask if you are free to leave
You may inquire as to whether you may leave or not. If the answer is affirmative you may depart. If the officer(s) reply in the negative and detain you, the law does not force you to provide any information except your name. You may decline to offer any other personal particulars like your immigration status or address.
3. You may deny consent to a search
In a Terry stop, police officers may pat down your outer garments if they have reasonable suspicion you possess weapons on your person and pose a danger. You have the right to say “I do not consent to a search.” Police may still search you. Why bother, then? Not making this disclaimer means you have essentially waived your fourth amendment rights, even if you do not want to. This may, in turn, make it difficult to claim the officers violated these rights later on.