There are a number of things that you as someone suspected of committing a crime can do to help yourself. First, never be disrespectful or belligerent to an officer. Remember, you are playing on his or her turf and he or she has all of the advantages and resources. In addition, it will give the officer an incentive to make your case more difficult for you than it otherwise might be.
Second, other than identifying yourself to the police you are not required to speak to them about any aspect of the facts that they are investigating or to give any written or recorded statements. You have this right under the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution. Many times the only evidence that a police officer has to convict you of a crime is what comes out of your own mouth. The police are very well trained in persuading individuals to give statements. Common examples are the officer telling you that he only wants to help you or, that if you tell him what is going on he won’t charge you or he won’t charge you with a more serious crime. Often they will tell you that without your statement they can only go by what the other side is saying and that would be bad for you. In some cases they will even try and get you to admit guilt by asking you to write a letter of apology to a victim and then using that as an admission of guilt. Do not fall into these traps. If the police are going to arrest you they are going to do it anyway and you are not going to talk your way out of it. Let your attorney deal with the police when you get to court.
Third, never consent to a search of your person, car, home or other property. When you decline to give permission be respectful but be very clear that you do not give permission. This may not make the officer happy but there is very little they can do about it. There are many times that the police will ask you for permission to search and they can be very intimidating about it. You must stand up to this pressure while at the same time not being rude or belligerent to the officer. If the officer searches without your permission do not try to stop him. If the search is illegal your attorney can take steps to correct that in court. Often they have no legal right to search other than your consent. Many people think that if they don’t allow a search that they look guilty and hope that by allowing the search the officer won’t find anything illegal and that they will treat you better because of your cooperation. That will not work, if they find something they are going to charge you, and police will find illegal items if you have them, so don’t think you hid them that well.
Never assist the police in obtaining evidence that they will use against you in court. You do not have to tell the police where you have been, where you are going, who you have been with, what you were doing or anything else other than to identify yourself. You do not have to submit to field sobriety tests if stopped for DUI or a breath test at the scene of the stop. (You do by law have to submit to a breath test at the station after being arrested for DUI). You do not have to give writing samples or provide DNA without warrants. The more information you give the police the more you are assuring your own conviction. Remember the old saying that a fish that keeps his mouth shut never gets a hook in it!
Contact an attorney as soon as you have been charged and even sooner if you know that you are under investigation and believe you may be charged. The sooner an attorney can evaluate your situation and make recommendations for a course of action the better your chances of success in court. If the police insist that you come in to talk to them contact your attorney who can go with you and prevent you from incriminating yourself. The police will usually try and persuade you that you don’t need an attorney. They have good reason to tell you this because they know if you have an attorney that he or she is not going to let you do anything that will incriminate you, which is the reason the police want to talk to you in the first place.
Feel free to contact Michael S Davis, Attorney at Law, for more information or visit our website www.michaelsdavislaw.com
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