Best Steps for Protecting Your Rights During Any Police Encounter

Posted almost 2 years ago. Applies to California, 1 helpful vote

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1

Remain Silent

Far too often defendants harm themselves inadvertently by volunteering Information to the police which ends up being the key evidence used against them during a latter criminal prosecution. One of the few times television and the movies get criminal law correct is in the constant reminder to arrested persons they have the right to remain silent. The Supreme Court has ruled that this right exists at all times, even when you are not the target of the police investigation. Since police are not to required to tell a person if they are being investigated, the person then has the right to remain silent at all times. Never volunteer information to the police. This fact cannot be stressed enough: the police are not "on your side" and they are not seeking to help you. Their job is to gather information for the DA in order to aid in any later prosecution. Do yourself a favor and remain silent always. You cannot explain away police suspicion, only confirm it.

2

Request an attorney as soon as possible.

One of the most important parts of the Fifth and Sixth Amendments in the area of criminal law is the right to an attorney. Some people think that requesting an attorney can be viewed as a sign of guilt to the police. Nothing could be further from the truth. The police are trained to reacted immediately to any request for counsel by anyone. The reason for this lies in how courts treat a suspect's request. All questioning must cease immediately and anything that is illicited from a suspect after a request is considered a violation of that person's constitution rights, with very few exceptions. Simply remaining silent is not enough; a recent 2010 Supreme Court decision held that a suspect must actually say these words to envoke the protection of counsel. Remaining silent is not enough to insure a lawyer is provided. Having an attorney present during any interaction with the police helps to build the defense defense against criminal prosecution.

3

Never lie to the police for any reason.

Despite the many admonitions defense attorneys give about the importance of not speaking to the police, some defendants and potential defendants still feel the need to explain their actions away. If you feel this is the best course of action for you, never, never lie about anything. Even the smallest "white" lie will be used as a discrepancy in your alibi or explanation and will be used to attack your credibility during a trial. If you feel a question by a police officer will lead to incriminating evidence, simply remain silent. Your act of remaining silent cannot be used against you at trial to imply guilt. But, a lie will be repeated many times by a prosecutor to show a jury that since this person lied about a small detail, nothing out of their mouth can be believed.

4

Remain Calm

This is the hardest part about any encounter with the police. The mere presence of a uniformed officer has the effect of making most people very nervous. Generally emotions are running high during any encounter. The result of which could be an act out of desperation or fear which is later charged as evasion, flight or worse, battery upon an officer. If the police make a mistaken , even in arresting and handcuffing a person, that mistake will be discovered in court through a motion by your attorney. Trying to "correct" the mistake on your own in the street will only increase the charges you may face. Once the police come to the decision to arrest someone, there is nothing they can say or do at that point to prevent it. If it is an unlawful arrest, the appropriate motions will be filed. While this may seem like the weaker and less effective method of resisting an unlawful arrest, running or lying to the police to prevent arrest will always hurt a defendant.

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