Know Your Rights


Your Constitutional Rights


Law enforcement of the FBI may ask for your name. Beyond that, you have a 5th amendment right to stay silent. You can assert that right by saying, “I wish to remain silent. My attorney will contact you.” You also have the right to speak with an attorney before answering any questions.

If officers ask to enter into your home, you have the right to ask if they have a warrant. You have a 4th Amendment right to politely say, “I do not consent to a search.” Never consent beyond the scope of a warrant. You cannot be punished for refusing to consent.


American Muslims support the NYPD and other law enforcement officials in their mission to protect us from crime and terrorism. All Americans have a civic duty to report criminal activity in their communities to authorities. At the same time, American Muslims are frequently the subject of baseless law enforcement investigations for doing nothing more than practicing their faith. If visited by law enforcement, remember:

  • You have the right to have a lawyer present when speaking with law enforcement officials or if you have been detained. This right is yours even if you are not an American citizen. You also have the right to remain silent.

  • Lying to law enforcement agents can be a federal crime, punishable by fines and/or imprisonment.

  • Ask for a warrant. Law enforcement officers must have a warrant to enter your home, except in emergency situations. Politely ask to see a warrant before allowing an agent to enter. If a warrant is present, tell the agents that you do not consent to any additional search beyond the warrant’s scope. Ask for a business card with the officers’ contact inform


In any encounter with police, the law requires that you identify yourself and produce government-issued identification, if asked. If you do not do so, you may be arrested. You do not have to answer any further questions, even if you are detained.

  • On the street: Officers may not stop you without reason. You must identify yourself, but you do not have to answer further questions. Officers may pat you down over your clothing if they suspect that you are armed. Ask if you are under arrest, or free to leave. If you are free to leave, walk away. If you are mistreated in any way, contact CAIR-NY immediately after you leave the scene.

  • In your car: Keep your hands where they are visible and do not make sudden movements. You must produce your license, registration, and proof of insurance, if asked. You do not have to consent to a search. In the event police do search your car, state clearly and calmly that you do not consent.

  • At a police station: You have the right to a lawyer and one phone call. If you cannot afford a lawyer, the government must provide one. Assume all rooms within the police station are being recorded (except when with your attorney).

  • If mistreated: Do not resist. Note abusers’ identification numbers and identifying characteristics. Find witnesses and record their contact information. Contact CAIR-NY ASAP.

  • If you are under 18: You have the right to ask for a parent as well as a lawyer during police questioning.


If you are not a citizen and you are contacted by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) or other U.S. immigration officials, remember:

  • The law requires you to carry your registration documents with you at all times. If you do not produce them, you may be arrested.

  • Never sign anything without reading and understanding it.

  • You have the right to an attorney who can visit you and represent you in immigration hearings. It is a good idea to carry the contact information of an immigration attorney. You can also call CAIR-NY at 646-665-7599.

  • Officials may not ask you improper questions about your religion, political beliefs, membership or donations to any group, or past travels.