January 09, 2014
When a person is arrested, he or she is faced with the strong likelihood of being charged with a crime. However, if you are arrested, there are things you should and should not do that can help you in your battle against an alleged crime.
Following arrest, your attorney must fight against the evidence law enforcement has gathered against you up to that point. You can avoid adding to that evidence, and avoid further aggravation of your situation, by remembering a few rules. The “do’s” and “don’ts” in this posting are based on the most common ways I see clients cause avoidable harm to their cases.
The “Do’s” of Being Arrested:
1. Be respectful of the law enforcement officer(s) who arrests you. While you may not agree with the reason for the arrest, or with the officer himself, it is helpful not to be disrespectful toward the officer. Many district attorneys seek greater punishment of those who are disrespectful toward an arresting officer(s). A good rule to follow is “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all” (but you should never have anything to say…see below).
2. Request a lawyer if law enforcement asks whether you are willing to speak with them regarding the reason for your arrest. You have the right to counsel during any and all custodial interrogation. EXERCISE THIS RIGHT!
3. Contact a friend or family member as soon as you are allowed to do so, and have them get in touch with a bondsman and an attorney. Depending on the situation, the faster a bail bondsman is contacted, the faster you may be released from jail. Also, having an attorney get involved as early as possible, in some cases, will allow the attorney to work to prevent charges from being filed.
The “Don’ts” of Being Arrested:
1. While this first “don’t” is not strictly associated with being arrested, and often leads to an arrest, I see it too often not to mention in this post. NEVER consent to a search of your vehicle, home, property, etc.! In order to conduct a search without a search warrant, a law enforcement officer must have probable cause. Often, law enforcement will not have probable cause to search without at warrant, but still “suspect” criminal activity is afoot. In order to bypass this problem, law enforcement officers will ask a person if they will consent to a search. Politely decline this request, and tell the officer to GET A WARRANT!
I believe many people that have something to hide from law enforcement consent to searches of their vehicle, home, property, etc., because they think “the cop will go easier on me if I don’t hide anything.” This is a huge misconception. Law enforcement’s job is to enforce the law by arresting those who break it, not to”go easier” on those who make their job simple.
Another reason I think people consent to searches is the pressure from a law enforcement officer to do so. You have the right to refuse a request, many times an unrelenting request, from law enforcement to search your vehicle, home, property, etc. STAND YOUR GROUND!
2. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of this next “don’t,” which is hinted at above. NEVER TALK to law enforcement! This rule applies beginning at the time of arrest. Conversations can be recorded in most law enforcement vehicles, and can be testified to by the officer. If you are asked whether you are willing to speak to law enforcement regarding the reason for your arrest, tell the officer(s) you will not answer any questions without a lawyer present. Take full advantage of your right to remain silent!
You may be asking, “why would I refuse to speak with law enforcement if I have nothing to hide?” Many people are told something to this effect by law enforcement. The reason is simple, and should be read to you before questioning – “anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.” Even the least incriminating statements made by a person during questioning are often twisted and/or taken out of context in order to be used as evidence against them in court. It is best to keep quiet, and avoid digging an unintentional hole.
One common reason people talk to law enforcement is they are made to believe, by the questioning officer, that the officer is their friend. They are not! This is an interrogation technique taught to, and used by, many law enforcement officers. Do not fall into this trap!
Another fact to keep in mind is that phone calls a person places from jail are usually recorded. Do not speak about anything related to your case during a phone call made from jail. Also, you should never speak to other inmates in the jail about your case. Save all conversations regarding your case for your lawyer.
3. Do not run from law enforcement. The only thing to be accomplished by running from law enforcement officers is picking up another charge or two. In certain circumstances, the fact that a person fled from law enforcement before being arrested can be used as evidence of guilt of the alleged crime in court.
If you have further questions regarding this topic, please post your inquiry and I will do my best to answer it. If you have a suggestion for next week’s topic, let me know!