Law students make presentation at rescue mission on citizen’s rights
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Pro Bono Project
December 14, 2011
Did you know you have the right to refuse a breathalyzer test? But, what are the consequences if you refuse? When the police knock on your front door, do you have to let the police into your house?
Law students Jason Weber (’13), Katie Hatcher (’13), and Kristina Wolf (’13) went to Winston Salem Rescue Mission to give a presentation on a person’s rights if the police stop you on the street or in your car, if the police came to your house or if they were to arrest you.
Acting out the different scenarios where a person might come into contact with a police officer, the students helped inform those present about their rights, options and the consequences of any actions that they had in each situation.
Attendees were interested to discover that one of the most powerful tools available to a person facing a police officer is to tell the police officers that you do not consent to being searched.
While the men at the Rescue Mission learned how certain phrases could protect them from being searched without their consent, the presenters were also reminded that those with a criminal record sometimes face a different reality than the ideal Constitutional vision.
While the person’s rights may not be fully respected at the moment of the arrest, it is the lawyer’s job to ensure that the police respect everyone’s rights and to make sure that convictions are obtained only when the fundamental rights established by the Constitution are followed.
The students said they hoped that their presentation would help those present be aware of their rights when facing a police officer who is in a position of power.