You might lead a very law-abiding lifestyle. Perhaps you don’t do anything so much as jaywalking that society considers to be a crime. Still, even if that’s true, a situation might arise at some point where you encounter the police and have to interact with them.

If that happens, you might feel nervous or intimidated. You know that ostensibly, the police are there to protect and serve. You might feel worried, though, that this particular police officer might abuse their power and say you did something you didn’t do.

It’s best to conduct yourself very carefully in a police encounter. Here are four things you should probably keep in mind if you ever find yourself face to face with law enforcement.

Don’t Taunt the Officer

In Kentucky, lawmakers are trying to push through a law to make taunting police a crime. The measure passed the Senate, and it is waiting for the House to approve it.

Even in states with no laws that explicitly say you cannot taunt the police, you should never do so. You never know if that officer has a short fuse and is going to react to it badly. Some officers are models of patience and restraint, but others might get rough with you if they think there is justification for doing so.

Don’t yell at a law enforcement official. Don’t curse at them or use offensive language. If you do, you never know what the results will be, and you’ll always put yourself in a better position if you have to take legal action later if you remain calm and peaceable throughout the whole interaction.

You Must Give Your Name and Address

Some US citizens are not clear on what they have to do, from a legal standpoint, if a cop encounters them. You don’t have to answer any questions that the police ask you. If you want to, you can, but you can legally refuse to answer any queries they put to you, with a couple of exceptions.

For instance, if the police suspect you in a robbery, and they ask you about it, you can refrain from answering until you can get a lawyer to represent you. However, you must at least respond when they ask for your name and address. If you have official identification on you, they can legally ask to see that as well, and you must present it to them.

An Officer Can Legally Search You in Some Instances

In many instances, an officer can legally search you. They can’t do so without probable cause, though. What’s tricky sometimes legally is establishing whether there was probable cause or not.

If you ask a police officer what probable cause they have to search you, they might say something like you made a furtive motion, or you match a suspect’s description. Those do not always hold up in court, but in the moment, you can’t physically resist the officer.

You can say that you do not consent to the search. Then, your objection is at least on the record. The police officer can still do it, and when they do so, you should not resist other than verbally.

If you want to fight the charges related to anything illegal you have on you that the search produces, you can certainly do that. However, if you try to physically resist the search when it’s happening, the police officer might harm you in the process.

Don’t Run or Otherwise Resist Arrest

Maybe you feel like you didn’t do anything wrong, and the police arrest you anyway. That might upset you, but if you decide to run rather than let them detain you, that’s never going to go well. You must allow them to arrest you and then fight the charges in court later if you decide that’s the most prudent move.

A police encounter can scare you, especially if you feel like the officer or officers are using excessive force or taking actions disproportionate to the situation. In the moment, though, you have to try to take a couple of deep breaths and calm yourself. What you do in this instant can have lasting repercussions.

If you run, take a swing at a cop, or anything along those lines, you’re handling the situation poorly. Even if the police were wrong to pull you over or detain you, if you assault a cop or act disrespectfully toward one, that’s almost always going to have grave consequences.