As a leading Jacksonville Defense Lawyer, my experience has led me to live by the motto: Defending, Not Judging. This belief welcomes every new client who has found themselves on the wrong side of the law.
Unfortunately, police officers judge you from the second they observe you. You need to be aware of what you say and do as soon as the event starts.
With that in mind, here’s my three top to do’s during your encounter with police:
- Keep Quiet and be Respectful
- Lawyer Up ASAP
- Know the Questions You Should Answer
Since 1999, I have defended good people who have needed a highly-experience Jacksonville Defense Attorney by their side. From day one, we hold police, prosecutors, and courts accountable to uphold for your Constitutional Rights. Any Jacksonville defense attorney should do the same, but to show you the difference, here are my top three rules to remember when you find yourself in a situation with police officers.
#1 Be Quiet and Respectful – Use your 5th Amendment Right
Police are required to read you what are known as your “Miranda rights” before they question you after an arrest. Your Miranda rights, or Miranda warning, inform you of your right to remain silent when you are being questioned after you have been arrested. If you choose to speak to officers and respond to questions after you have been given the Miranda warning, anything you say “can and will be used against you.”
Try to resist talking as a response to the rush of energy that hits once you’ve been stopped. Let your Jacksonville defense attorney do the talking for you.
You should be respectful and polite. Police have a lot of discretion in what charges are brought. They can change a misdemeanor to a felony, add charges, and/or even take the trouble to talk directly to the prosecutor and urge him to go hard on you. On the other hand, as a Jacksonville defense attorney, I had a client who was friendly to the police and talked sports and such on the way to the station. They gave him a break. Notice he did not talk about his case, however.
The hardest cases for any Jacksonville defense attorney to defend are those where the suspect got very talkative. Incredibly, many will start babbling without the police having asked a single question. Remain as calm as can be. Experience has shown that judges and juries will discount or ignore what a suspect says if that helps him, but give great weight to anything that seems to hurt him.
#2 Lawyer Up – Call Your Jacksonville Defense Lawyer
If you get arrested, your cell phone will be taken away, so having a lawyer’s number in your phone is not going to help you. In jail, you get one phone call. It will be collect. Find a Jacksonville defense attorney you like and commit their name and/or number to memory.
On the heels of invoking your 5th Amendment rights, you want to let the police know that you want to talk to you lawyer. Calling an attorney will settle you down and get you focused. Do not wait to be allowed to make a call, if that’s possible.
After making a call to your Jacksonville defense attorney, continue to stay calm, quiet and respectful. No matter what the circumstances, getting busted gets our minds cluttered with things that won’t help. Keep your cool.
If you feel that your rights have been violated in any way, tell your attorney as soon as possible. Do not resist or fight the police, because there is nothing you can do at the moment and they have all the power. You should not risk getting hurt.
Even though they are allowed to talk to you, the police cannot threaten you or force you in any other way to talk to them or give them any sort of statement. If this happens to you, tell your Jacksonville defense attorney immediately.
#3 Questions You Should Answer
Contrary to depictions on crime dramas, don’t expect to have a Miranda warning read to you upon handcuff application. Miranda only applies when an officer both has you in custody and is asking you guilt-seeking questions. An officer asking safety questions or administrative questions without Miranda does not violate your rights. These questions could be:
Q: “Do you have anything on your person I need to be concerned about?”
Q: “What is your name, date of birth and Social Security number?”
In the first case, the officer is simply trying to avoid plunging a syringe tip into their bone marrow during the search incident to arrest; in the second, they’ve got stacks of paperwork to fill out that are required by all manner of federal, state, local and department laws and policies – don’t make it unduly difficult.
On a practical level, you’re probably not leaving the jail until you’re positively identified, so you might as well streamline the process.
A final To-Do: Keep a list handy of these reminders in your wallet or purse at all times. You’ll be helping your Jacksonville defense attorney and yourself.