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  • Exercise your right to remain silent. After an arrest, there is no benefit to giving any statement to the police, especially without an attorney present. Immediately invoke your right to have legal counsel present, and clearly communicate that you will not answer any questions until you speak with an attorney. SAY NOTHING ELSE.
  • Even if they have not been read you your Miranda rights, still invoke your right to remain silent and your right to have an attorney present.
  • Do not say or talk to anyone else at the scene, in the squad car, or at the jail.
  • Do not make any jail phone calls that can possibly be incriminating. If you call anyone, call someone to help assist with your jail release and/or call an attorney. Say as little as possible and discuss nothing even remotely related to the incident. Realize it is likely recorded and could be used against you later in court.

Anytime you have an encounter with law enforcement, you need to make sure you understand the following:

  • You are likely being filmed and recorded, usually by video. The less you say, the better. Do not say anything that would possibly portray you in a negative light later to a jury or a judge in a hearing or a trial. Do not argue, beg, physically resist, or verbally abuse the police officers – regardless of how they are treating you.
  • Be polite. Always be calm, cool, and collected. Being investigated and/or arrested is a nerve-racking experience – but do your best to keep yourself in check and in control, both with what you verbally say and even with your body language. Even when refusing, it is very wise to ALWAYS be polite when doing so. Often it can prevent a situation from being worse if you are overly confrontational. I also believe it is always perceived positively if you insert “please” and “thank you” when you communicate with them, even when conveying something like how you will not consent to a search, or when you exercise your right to remain silent or your right to an attorney.
  • Never consent to any search, period – even if you believe you have nothing to hide.
  • If you believe you are under arrest or are being questioned about a crime, immediately request to speak with an attorney, and other than communicating your correct name, address, and date of birth, make it abundantly clear that you wish to exercise your right to remain silent and you will not answer any questions without an attorney present.

Summary Of Your Rights

  • You have the right to remain silent. If you want to properly invoke this right, one must properly exercise it by verbally expressing it out loud.
  • You have the right to refuse to give any and all voluntary consent of your person, your vehicle, and inside your home or place of residence.
  • Magic Words: If you are not under arrest, ask the police officer if you are free to leave. If you may leave, then do so calmly and quietly. If they respond that you are not free to leave, ask if you are under arrest. If they say you are, then invoke your right to remain silent and your right to have an attorney present. If they say you are not under arrest, be silent and let them finish whatever reason they believe they have to justify detaining you. Do not do anything to allow them to justify detention to become a situation where it develops into probable cause for them to search or to arrest.
  • You have the right to an attorney once you are legally under arrest. Once you are made aware that you are under arrest, request immediately for your right to counsel.
  • Regardless of your immigration status (if you have a green card, a visa, do not have any status at all), even if you are not a citizen of the United States with full citizenship status, you still have constitutional rights. Do not be led to believe that because you are not a citizen these same principles do not apply to you.

Things To Remember – Your Duties

  • Always try your best to stay calm, polite, and courteous – even if the police officers are not treating you with the same respect.
  • Do not interfere, obstruct, or impede the job of whatever law enforcement official you encounter.
  • Always give your correct legal name, and never give false documents to any law enforcement official.
  • If you believe something was amiss or the behavior was inappropriate, try to remember the details of the encounter and make an official complaint to the police department the official works for.
  • File a written complaint if you feel that your rights were violated in any way whatsoever.

Main Points To Consider

Never Consent To Any Search

This is true whether you are on foot, in your car, or at home. If you know you are under arrest, immediately request to speak to an attorney, be polite and tell them you will not answer any questions until you have an attorney present, and you would like to exercise your right to remain silent.

Officers are good at what they do. They usually will ask “You don’t have anything in here illegal, do you?” If you say yes – it gives them probable cause to search. If you say no, the follow-up question asked usually will be something to the effect of “then you do not mind if we search your car, do you?” Most people try to be compliant with the police, and the natural response of a common person is to not be combative. Thus, most people then acquiesce and respond back “No officer, of course, I do not mind if you search my vehicle.” This is true often times even when someone knows there is something illegal which will be found inside a vehicle.

Most people do not have the mindset to respond in the following manner “No, officer – I do not have anything in here illegal, and I have nothing to hide. However, YES officer, I very much do mind if you search my vehicle, and I absolutely do not give you my permission/consent to search either my person or my vehicle.” It is important to communicate this politely – but also to be firm and do not waver. If it is a traffic stop, the officer can only detain a person as long as necessary to effectuate whatever reason it is for why they pulled the person over in the first place. A prolonged detention results in the encounter being an arrest, and if this occurs – and it likely will be deemed prolonged detention, and if so, whatever evidence is obtained by the police officer that may be incriminating will likely be ruled inadmissible in court.

Often, people give their consent to search because they genuinely believe they have nothing to hide. However, often people are shocked to discover they can be arrested for things they did not have knowledge was illegal. For example, a mother who carpools her children and other neighborhood kids to school in the morning, may not have any knowledge of one of the kids happens to leave some of their prescription ADHD, anxiety, or antidepressant medication in her car. Kids often carry these to school, have a valid prescription, but very easily could leave them behind inadvertently in a car when transported to school. If the mother consents to a search of the vehicle, and perhaps one of the children mistakenly drops some of the pills on the ground and she cannot produce a valid prescription for the medication for herself, she very well could be arrested for possession of a controlled substance.

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