If you have been accused of a crime or arrested, it is easy to make a mistake that could significantly impact your ability to defend yourself in court. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to help yourself. Here are five ways to protect yourself if you get arrested by the police:
- Invoke your right to an attorney
- When being questioned by the police you have the right to have an attorney present with you for any part of the questioning. Most people have heard of “Miranda Rights” or “you have the right to remain silent, you have the right to an attorney. Anything you say can be held against you in a court of law.” Many people will waive this right and hurt themselves by answering questions they should not be answering. You should under no circumstance waive your right to have a lawyer present. The police are trained in interrogation tactics and will often get you to make statements that could hurt you in any future court case. The first words out of your mouth during any interaction with the police should be “I want a lawyer.” That statement must be absolute and unwavering (do not say I think I need a lawyer you must say “I want a lawyer”) Police must stop all questioning at that point and may not resume until you get a chance to speak to your lawyer.
- Do not consent to a search without a warrant
- The police will sometimes ask permission to search your car during a traffic stop or your residence. Giving them permission allows them to search your car or home without having to go through the difficult process of obtaining a search warrant. There is no requirement for you to give the police permission to search and if asked you should never allow them without speaking to a lawyer first.
- Do not resist arrest
- There is a difference between exercising your constitutional rights and fighting with the police. While the police are rarely friendly when arresting someone, resisting when you get arrested is only likely to make things worse. Even if you believe the arrest is unjust this is not the time to fight. The time to fight is in court with a lawyer by your side. Resisting arrest will only hurt your case and can result in additional criminal charges.
- Be careful what you say in public
- If you are allowed to return home after your arrest, it can be tempting to talk about it to your friends or family, if only to complain. However, this is not a good idea, as your loved ones could be called to testify against you later on. You should especially avoid talking about your case on social media, as the police can simply collect information from your social media account and submit it as evidence.
- Get a lawyer as soon as possible
- Finally, you should never attempt to defend yourself in court. A criminal defense lawyer with knowledge of criminal law can help you stage a defense and negotiate with the prosecutor giving you the best chance of a favorable outcome.
Fox Law Firm, PLLC is a New York traffic and criminal law practice serving clients throughout Nassau and Suffolk counties. With more than three decades of law practice experience, attorney Dan Fox has helped clients in traffic and criminal cases defend themselves and protect their rights. For more information or to ask for a consultation, call our Riverhead office at 631-779-3400 or visit our contact page.