Strong emotions are common when you find yourself under arrest by police. You may be angry, confused, afraid, or even convinced you can explain yourself adequately, and this frequently leads to mistakes that can harm your case. However, by remembering these three important tips, you can help ensure your criminal defense begins on the best possible footing.
Utilize Your Right to Remain Silent
Most everyone knows the first and most important Miranda Right: “You have the right to remain silent.” This is one of the most important and crucial rights for maintaining a fair and justified trial in court, as it gives you the right to not incriminate yourself. The police do not have to tell you the truth while they are investigating crimes and often purposely deceive people to whom they are speaking. Therefore, it is strongly advised that you utilize your right to remain silent to the fullest extent and refuse to answer any questions about your case until you have an attorney present (which you are also entitled to have).
You are required to identify yourself, but beyond that you do not have to answer any questions from authorities, and you cannot be punished for refusing to do so. You also should not answer any questions regarding your immigration status or country of origin, as you are permitted to have an attorney present before doing so, even if you are taken into immigration custody.
This refusal should be done politely, but you should leave absolutely no doubt about your wishes. The four magic words are “I want a lawyer.”
Do Not Resist Your Arrest
You may feel as though you are being unfairly arrested or are having your rights violated when you are arrested. However, no matter what, you should not resist arrest. Do not fight, argue, attempt to run from, or in any way harm police officers. Keep your hands and arms where the officers can see them, and follow all of their instructions precisely without question.
Not only will this ensure that you are not harmed during your arrest (those who resist arrest are generally treated less gently by police and could sustain injuries of their own), but resisting arrest is also a punishable offense, and could result in you facing extended jail time and larger fines in a case where you may have otherwise been able to walk away consequence-free.
We can attack any mistakes the police make later. The place for a fight is the courtroom, not the side of the road.
You May Refuse to Consent to a Search
As an American citizen, you are Constitutionally protected from “unreasonable search and seizure” via the Fourth Amendment. This means that unless the authorities you are speaking with have a search warrant authorized by a judge, they do not have the right to search your car, your home, your office, or even your pockets. Anything found in an unauthorized search is not be considered as evidence against you in court, and can be suppressed by an attorney.
However, there are exceptions to this general rule. As an example, police may search your vehicle without a warrant if you are placed under arrest, and anything they believe can be used as evidence against you will be permissible evidence in court. Likewise, in Virginia the mere “odor of marijuana” (whether fresh or burnt) can supply probable cause to search a vehicle without a warrant.
The most important thing to remember is that the police need no other reason whatsoever to perform a search if you consent to it. If you provide any assistance at all to the police during their search or as they are asking to do it, it is a safe bet that a court will allow the Commonwealth to use whatever is found during that search.
If you are arrested, you should not hesitate to seek legal representation as soon as possible. Attorney Andrew J. Cornick and his experienced team expertly pair big-firm power with the one-on-one service of a small law firm to provide you with the best possible experience and maximum legal ability for your defense. Our Fredericksburg criminal defense attorneys recognized the importance of helping those facing the harshness of the criminal justice system, and we are dedicated to helping you put the law to work for you.
My team and I are ready to help you! For a free consultation, call Andrew J. Cornick, Attorney at Law today at (540) 827-4446.