What Should You Do When stopped by police in Taiwan?(Author, Christopher Chih Yu Chen/Editor, Nicole Wei Shan Liang)

日期 2017年05月16日 21:00:00 | 新聞類別: 最新消息

Being stopped by police is part of our daily life, most of which would end peacefully; however, a few people might have some arguments with police officers or even get arrested and convicted of crimes, and such events are completely avoidable. To avoid turning peaceful encounters into unnecessary conflicts, I would like to share with you methods and some points people should pay attention to when stopped by police.

[1] Author, Christopher Chih Yu Chen (1988-., English department and LLM, FUJEN University, attorney at law)

[2] Editor, Nicole Wei Shan Liang (1981-., attorney at law)

      I will introduce some legal concepts and acts here. Stop is defined in Article 11 of Police Duty Act as Stop and Check: “ The duty officers conduct inspections or traffic stops at public places or designated and specific roads to question suspicious people, enforce laws and traffic regulations or other statutory missions.” According to this article, police officers are authorized to stop people at public places or designated and specific roads to conduct inspections, and question is---Are police officers authorized to stop whoever they want? I must mention a crucial judicial interpretation---Judicial Yuan Interpretation No. 535(JYI No. 535). JYI No.535 states that “Police shall not exercise checking authority over any persons unless there is a reasonable belief that actions taken by such persons have caused or may cause danger; and in so doing, police must abide by the principle of proportionality and not go beyond the degree of necessity. ”  It means the police officers may not stop whoever they want unless there is a reasonable belief that actions taken by such persons have caused or may cause danger.

     A legal stop requires due process. First, Article 4 of Police Power Exercise Act states that “When exercising their power, the police shall wear their uniforms or present their credentials that show their identity and they shall reveal the intent. When the police officers fail to follow the provisions set forth in the preceding paragraph while exercising their power, people may refuse to cooperate.”  Second, “The police may verify the identity of the following people in public places or public-accessible places.” Police officers have to commence stops at public places or public-accessible places. It is illegal without warrant issued by the court. Third, police officers may not ask people to stay for more than 3 hours and may only ask people to show their personal ID cards, after inspection, they have to let people stopped by them to leave. When stopping cars, police officers are allowed to demand car drivers to take breathalyzer tests to confirm whether they are drunken-driving or not and if refusing to take breathalyzers tests or even just running away from police officers without a justifiable cause, people are in danger of being arrested.

      Furthermore, when stopped by police officers, people are allowed to know why they are stopped, and police officers have to illustrate the reason to them, or people may just leave. It happens frequently that police officers would search people’s vehicles or personal belongings, and such incidents are in fact prohibited with a search warrant. In accordance with article 29 of Police Power Exercise Act, “Obligors or interested parties may state reasons on site to express their objections when the police are exercising their powers in accordance with this Act with regard to how the powers thereof are exercised, the procedures that shall be followed, or other conditions. When the objections prescribed in the preceding paragraph are believed by the police to be justifiable, the police shall discontinue or correct the exercise immediately. When they are believed to be unjustifiable, the police may continue their exercise. Upon requests from the obligors or interested parties, the police shall place the reasons for the objections on record and provide the record. When the rights of obligors or interested parties are undermined as a result of illegal or inappropriate exercise of powers by the police, they may file an administrative petition or administrative lawsuit.” Rather, police officers must respond to people’s objections.

      What is mentioned above is the rights people can exercise according to the acts; however, it is suggested that people talk gently while exercising their rights to avoid infuriating police officers, as the purpose of stops is to prevent crimes from happening, which benefits all of us. Also, police officers are unable to identify who is criminal just by the looks of people’s faces, stops are needed to increase the well-being of people. When stopped by the police, people may politely ask officers why they are stopped and show ID cards to them, and most of police officers would let people leave after seeing ID cards. In cases that police officers demand to search personal belongings or vehicles, people may politely remind them that search warrants are required on this sort of occasion. Also, police officers should not have the idea of “if people have nothing to hide, then why don’t people allow officers to search?” since Being considered a suspect searched is an extremely unpleasant experience. In the end, when stop is done, people may express their gratitude to the police by say “thank you,” which would not only strengthen the trust between police and ordinary people, but increase the safety of society. Still being arrested by the police, remember that you have the right to talk to a lawyer and have him/her present while you are questioned.