Most criminal defense attorneys will tell you that what you do before, during and after your arrest can have a profound effect — for good or ill — on the outcome of your case.
If you’re facing a criminal investigation or have been arrested, there are things you can do to protect your interests — and things you definitely want to avoid doing.
What to remember when dealing with the police
It is not easy to think on your feet when you’re under pressure, so remembering the following can help you:
- Do not allow warrantless searches: Most people have been conditioned to be cooperative with authority figures — but too much cooperation can be a bad thing with the police. Whether they want to search your car, peek into your phone or get access to your home, your answer should always be, “Sorry, I do not consent to a search.” (They may search anyhow, but this statement helps clearly protect your Fourth Amendment rights.)
- Do not make voluntary statements: Your Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination is very important. Whether you’ve been given a Miranda Warning or not, do not give the police any statements or make any explanations for your actions without your attorney present.
- Do not voluntarily agree to a polygraph test or lineup: Polygraph (“lie detector”) tests are more science fiction than actual science, which is why they can’t be used in court. Failing one, however, can make the police more intent on breaking you down and finding evidence that fits their theories. Similarly, eyewitness testimony is highly unreliable, but getting picked out of a lineup can be devastating to your case.
- Do not wait to get an attorney: You need to get an attorney by your side as fast as possible — and you need to be honest about everything you say to your advocate. If you hide something, the surprise could tank even a carefully developed defense strategy.
The better you understand your rights, the more equipped you are to use them. A Linwood defense attorney can help you learn more.