Constitutional Rights in Texas
Your right to remain silent and how to handle traffic stops
Your Right to Remain SilentIn Texas we of course enjoy the "right to remain silent", just like anywhere else in the country. But there is one little known nuance under the Texas Constitution that could come in handy should you ever need it. You see, the US Supreme Court has held that pre arrest silence can actually be used against you in court. So, if you invoke your right to remain silent before arrest, your lawyer will need to object to evidence of your silence at trial based on Article 1 Section 10 of the Texas Constitution. A simple 5th Amendment objection will not be sufficient at trial.
Detentions, searches, and consentThe key here is to remember that police need a warrant to search you, unless an exception to the warrant requirement applies. The exceptions are too numerous to go through here, so I'll touch on a couple of issues that I come across on a routine basis. One, you do not have to consent to a search. Refusal to consent cannot be used as evidence to support a probable cause search. Police will often use an otherwise legitimate traffic stop to go on a fishing expedition. They will ask questions until you say something they can call "suspicious". Next thing you know it's been 30 minutes and now the drug dogs are circling your car. The best thing you can do is Not consent, and simply answer any questions by stating that you want a lawyer present for any questions so long as you are not free to go. Then keep your mouth shut. Remember, the longer you are detained, the more facts they will need to articulate that rise to the level of reasonable suspicion. Be polite, brief, and quiet. Don't let your nerves get your motor mouth running. That's exactly what they want.