There are four different kinds of law enforcement officers operating in Colorado. These include the following:
- Federal officers from the FBI, DEA, ICE, and Homeland Security
- Colorado State Police
- County sheriff’s departments
- City police
All of these officers have the right to arrest you without a warrant under specific and limited circumstances.
Stop on the Street
A law enforcement officer can stop you on the street for any reason. If you are not being detained—meaning you are free to go—and not under arrest, you do not have to answer any questions. However, you will need to ask the officer whether you are free to go. If the answer is yes, then you can walk away without answering any questions.
An officer can detain you for a reasonable period of time, but only if the officer has reasonable suspicion that you have committed a crime or are about to commit a crime. Colorado has a “stop and identify” law that requires that you identify yourself truthfully by name. You have the right to remain silent as to all other questions.
To arrest you on the street without a warrant, an officer must have witnessed you committing a crime or have probable cause that you have committed a crime. You have the right to remain silent, except for stating your name, and cannot be penalized for refusing to answer any other questions.
Stop in your car
An officer can only stop you while driving if the officer has reasonable suspicion that you have committed a crime or a traffic violation. An officer cannot just stop a driver to see your license without reasonable suspicion that something illegal has happened. That is not permitted in Colorado. Keep the following in mind when stopped in your car by a police officer:
- For your own protection, keep your hands visible on the steering wheel, when stopped.
- Upon request, you must produce a driver’s license, vehicle registration, and proof of insurance. Other than providing this information, you do not have to answer any questions.
- However, you do need to obey police commands, such as getting out of the car, or separating the driver from any passengers. Passengers, too, have the right to remain silent. As the driver, you have the right to lock the car if you are asked to exit the vehicle to ensure that the police do not search the car without a warrant. Officers can secure and even search the car only if there is evidence visible from outside the car of criminal activity.
- If you are arrested, stay calm, do not resist, ask the officer what the charges are, and get the name and badge number of all of the participating officers. These are your rights.
Contact a Colorado criminal defense lawyer
At the Law Offices of John Anderson, we work hard to defend our client’s rights and clear their names. If you or a loved one has been arrested, detained or charged with a crime in Colorado, contact Brighton criminal defense lawyer John Anderson today at (303) 880-7994 or online to schedule your initial consultation.