The purpose of this information is to provide some very basic advice to those individuals who find themselves questioned by or accused of a crime by law enforcement. It is not intended as individualized “legal advice” nor should it be construed as creating an attorney-client relationship between us.
With that said, the best advice I can give you is DON’T DO DUMB THINGS. You do not need to know the letter of the law in order to act lawfully. Laws are almost always based on safety and morals. So, if you avoid doing things that put others in danger or that are immoral, you almost always will remain a law-abiding citizen.
Surely you realize that, I provide the above advice strictly from my heart. The truth is that, the more you are in trouble with the law, the more I get paid. If you still are not swayed to stay out of trouble, then follow JON’S 5 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW WHEN YOU ARE FACING CRIMINAL CHARGES OR QUESTIONING. It will save me and you a ton of headaches and jail time.
Causey & Ye Law offers Criminal Defense representation for a variety of charges, including DUI, OWI, misdemeanors, and felonies. If you have immigrant status and are facing criminal charges, call Causey & Ye Law. Criminal charges can potentially trigger hearings regarding deportation or removal if they are considered a “Crime Involving Moral Turpitude.”
(1) DO NOT allow the police to search you or your car or your home voluntarily and without a search warrant.
Never give law enforcement permission to search you, your property, your car, your house, or anything else that, you have control over, unless they produce a valid warrant issued by a judge. You are not being difficult, rude, or confrontational by asking politely to see a warrant—you are simply exercising your right against unreasonable search and seizure guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. A judge may deny the officers’ request for the warrant because they do not possess enough evidence to justify its issuance, or officers may be on what is called a “fishing expedition,” hoping to find evidence of a crime that you are alleged to have committed.
With the above said, if law enforcement produces a warrant, you have no say in the matter. Allow them to search. If they do not have a warrant and you do not give them permission but they search anyway, do not interfere or resist. Call me and let me do my job to suppress any evidence produced as a result of an illegal search.
(2) DO NOT give any voluntary statements to law enforcement.
I am always amazed at the number of people who do not know that, YOU ARE NOT REQUIRED TO TALK TO POLICE WHEN THEY COME TO TALK TO YOU ABOUT A CRIME. So simple, yet so often ignored. In the U.S., YOU HAVE A RIGHT TO REMAIN SILENT. I strongly encourage you to exercise that right until you speak to me. Often what you consider to be an innocent statement, or being helpful, will get twisted and distorted into something that makes you look guilty when you are not.
I am not saying that, if you are truly innocent, you should never provide the police with information to help them solve crimes. You should. Just do it with me by your side, after I have had the opportunity to speak to you in private, evaluate the situation, and advise you of any potential dangers.
(3) NEVER resist arrest.
This is another spot where I believe I can explain this with a plea to your common sense. Think about it. No matter what you think about your ability to get away, you are wrong. Go watch the show COPS. After you are subdued by absolutely, 100%, justified force applied by the officers, and if you are lucky enough to have not been shot, at a minimum, you will be in pain and facing far worse charges. Cops, prosecutors, and judges are much more likely to go easy on a person who commits a crime and goes quietly than one who places officers and innocent citizens at risk by resisting.
Legally speaking, being uncooperative during an arrest can only hurt you and your defense. Even if you are innocent of the charge the officers are arresting you for, if you resist arrest you are guilty of another crime that is much easier to prove. Besides, resisting makes you look guilty regardless whether you are or not.
(4) Ask officers if you are under arrest.
If officers reply “YES,” then you are under arrest. Although you have a right to know why, be careful about asking for that information if you are being arrested for OWI, public intoxication, or any other charge where intoxication is an element of the crime. Assume that you are being recorded at all times. Your slurred speech will make its way into court as evidence against you.
If you are sober, go ahead and ask if you wish, then politely say this phrase: “I KNOW MY RIGHTS. I WANT MY LAWYER PRESENT BEFORE ANY QUESTIONING TAKES PLACE. I WISH TO REMAIN SILENT UNTIL THAT TIME.” Or say something similar. Make sure you stick to your guns. Do not crumble under pressure once you are at the jail and officers are dragging their feet calling me. Again, it is not rude to exercise your rights under the U.S. Constitution.
If officers respond “NO,” then politely say this phrase: “I KNOW MY RIGHTS. IF I AM NOT UNDER ARREST, THEN THE CONSTITUITONALITY OF THIS STOP IS OVER.” This situation is a little more complicated. In order to stop someone on the street or to stop someone driving on public roads, officers must have reasonable suspicion (articulable, factual circumstances) that a crime has been or is about to be committed. Additionally, officers need to justify these stops (and pat downs) based on public safety or officer safety reasons. For the officer safety justification to apply, the officer must have been alone or outnumbered. The time of day when the stop occurred is also considered.
The above may sound a bit too legal for most. What you need to remember is that officers can approach you in public. They can ask you basic questions, i.e. name and address, to see your license, etc. They may also pat you down in most situations. Comply with these requests, but nothing more. Never, however, resist or become belligerent with officers. They are allowed to stop you for a “reasonable” time. Do not feel bad, this is confusing to lawyers and judges as well. Reasonableness is based on the situation. So, it could be longer in some situations, shorter in others. However, the basic rule is that officers can hold you there until they have satisfied their curiosity. After a reasonable time has passed, if they have not found probable cause to arrest, they have to let you go on your way. Otherwise, they have unconstitutionally seized you in violation of your Fourth Amendment Rights.
(5) NEVER make statements to friends, family members, or other people about the crime you have been charged with or questioned about.
Anything you say to anyone, other than your attorney, can and will, in most situations, be used against you in court. Sound familiar? This is part of what we call Miranda Rights. Many times so-called “friends” end up being interrogated by law enforcement and end up saying you said something you did not say, or simply agree to what law enforcement says you said or might have said regarding an alleged crime. They can then show up in court and testify against you.
Everyone has seen this play out on TV, whether it be a fictional or nonfictional program. Officers drag in their main suspect’s best friend, girlfriend, mom, etc., and tell that person that, if they do not start talking, they will find themselves in the cell with the suspect. Or at a minimum officers threaten obstruction of justice charges. This is literally what will happen if you start talking about your legal troubles to anyone other than me. Consider the old saying “loose lips sink ships” as pure gospel when applied to criminal matters.Type your paragraph here.
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