What are (and aren't) the police permitted to do? In Germany, police conduct is legally determined by the German Penal Code (Strafgesetzbuch, or StGB), the German Code of Criminal Procedure (Strafprozessordnung, or StPO), and state laws regarding public safety (police law) that vary according to federal state. These laws and codes govern what the police are (and are not) permitted to do. Criminal charges and complaints can be brought against individual police officers. Although court proceedings against police officers rarely result in convictions, they do have ramifications. A police officer undergoing a court case is ineligible for promotion or a raise, and can also face disciplinary consequences such as a reduction in salary or a demotion as a result of the proceedings. Here's what the police are and are not permitted to do. If you are out in public on foot: The police can establish your identity. This means they can demand you show them some form of ID. As a rule, they may not search you! Except with your consent Important! Silence here is considered consent. If a police officer announces their intention to search you, you must respond in the negative to avoid consenting by default. If you answer with "Nein, das lassen Sie. Ich bin nicht damit einverstanden." ("No, stop that. I do not consent to this."), then the officer may not search you. Unless you are considered a criminal suspect in accordance with §102 StPO (Section 102 of the German Code of Criminal Procedure) In this case you must already be suspected of having committed an offence (e.g. the possession of drugs). By default, you are presumed innocent of criminal activity, and can only be considered a criminal suspect when there are clear indications or evidence that you have committed an offence (simply having bloodshot eyes, for example, does not make you a suspect). Or, despite not being a suspect, in accordance with §103 StPO (Section 103 of the German Code of Criminal Procedure) When not suspected of committing an offence, the police are only permitted to search you when it is clear this will likely lead to the apprehension of a suspect or assist in the securing of evidence. This would be the case, for example, if the police directly witnessed you being given an object that had been used (by another person) to commit an offence. Should a police officer attempt to search you against your will in situations where §102 or §103 of the StPO are not applicable, you can state that "Das werden Sie nicht tun, sonst machen Sie sich gemäß §344 StGB der Verfolgung Unschuldiger strafbar." ("Continuing with this search means you will be liable for prosecution under §344 StGB concerning the Prosecution of Innocent Persons.") While driving In accordance with §36 Absatz 5 StVO (Straßenverkehrsordnung)—§36 Paragraph 5 of the Road Traffic Regulations, during general traffic checks: The police have the right to: request that you come to a halt and exit your vehicle require you present your government ID, driver's license, and vehicle registration check that your vehicle contains a hazard triangle and first aid kit As a rule, they do not have the right to: search your vehicle force you to take a Romberg test, i.e. shine a light in your eyes, instruct you to walk in a straight line, touch your nose, etc. Here, as when on foot, you can withhold your consent (again, silence is considered consent). If a police officer seeks to look into your eyes and shine a light in your face, you can forbid them from doing so by saying: "Nein, das ist kein Bestandteil einer allgemäßinen Verkehrskontrolle nach §36 Absatz 5 StVO. Dafür benötigen Sie meine Zustimmung. Diese verweigere ich Ihnen." ("No, that is not part of a general traffic check according to §36 Absatz 5 StVO. This action requires my consent, which I withhold.") Physical examination in accordance with §81a StPO (German Code of Criminal Procedure) Police taking a blood sample from you or administering a urine or sweat test are all serious infringements upon your bodily integrity. They may only be performed on those suspected of a crime and —in theory—require the approval of a judge. In reality, however, things often transpire differently. In cases of “periculum in mora” ("danger in delay", also known as "exigent circumstances"), a police officer can subject you to physical examination without first requiring judicial approval. Exigent circumstances exist when it is necessary for a police officer to respond to a situation immediately, e.g. in order to later be able to prove that you were under the influence of alcohol at the time in question. Of course, actual indications of potential wrongdoing must be present in such cases. (Here, too, bloodshot eyes are insufficient grounds to suspect that someone has been drinking; the stench of alcohol, however, would be considered a sufficient indication). Once again, you may withhold your consent by saying "Nein, das möchte ich nicht." ("No, I don't want you to do that.") If a police officer tries to subject you to some form of physical examination without your consent, you can once again make clear that you do not agree to it by saying "Nein, das werden Sie nicht tun, sonst machen Sie sich gemäß §340 StGB der Körperverletzung im Amt strafbar." ("Continuing with this action will make you liable for prosecution in accordance with §340 of the German Penal Code concerning Bodily Harm in Public Office. A police officer may not arrest you and take you to a police station simply because you are not being fully co-operative. Should the officer claim otherwise, you can at this point state: "Nein, das werden Sie nicht tun, sonst machen Sie sich gemäß §239 StGB der Freiheitsberaubung strafbar." ("Doing so will make you liable for prosecution in accordance with §239 of the German Penal Code concerning Unlawful Imprisonment.") What you can do Refuse to make a statement! Police officers may attempt to uncover information about criminal behaviour through informal questioning. You can counteract this tactic by replying with "Hierzu mache ich keine Angaben." ("I do not wish to answer that.") Not saying anything means you do not give the police anything to use against you. (In addition, you are not required to comply with the police if they summon you, whether that be as a witness or a suspect. Only summons issued by the public prosecutor's office or the courts must be complied with. You should always speak to a lawyer beforehand though.) demand to see a police officer's service ID in order to note down identifying information about the officer. Use this information to file a criminal charge and a complaint. (Important: always file both a charge and a complaint, as some offences can only be prosecuted within the context of a complaint. Complaints must be filed within three months of the incident.) These should be filed with the public prosecutor's office, not with the police.