When the police knock on someone’s door, pull them over at a traffic stop, or search them without a warrant, it is an intimidating experience. Sometimes law enforcement oversteps a line and infringes on the rights that we all have. It’s not only important to know your rights but also to know how to defend them later in court.
Unfortunately, it may not feel that way when an officer makes the arrest, takes you to the station and puts you in jail overnight. For those who face this stressful and often scary situation, it can be vital to the case to call in an experienced defense team that will not only offer strategic legal advice, but also protect one’s rights from the long arm of the law.
What are your rights during the arrest?
No matter what the offense, when law enforcement apprehends an individual on suspicion of a crime, there is an arresting procedure that they must follow which includes reading the suspect their constitutional rights under the Fifth and Sixth amendments. Called the Miranda Rights, the four statements are:
- You have a right to remain silent
- Anything you say can and will be used against you
- You have a right to an attorney
- If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you
The arresting officer must read these rights to the suspect after they are in custody and before interrogation. Without this procedure, anything the suspect says that incriminates them cannot later be used against them in court.
Some people may try to be completely honest with the police in hopes of getting lesser charges, but this approach may actually have the opposite effect. The job of law enforcement at this stage is to make the charges stick in order to build a case for conviction. They will not help you, but an aggressive defense attorney will.
How about illegal search and seizure?
Under the Fourth Amendment, law enforcement may only engage in “reasonable” search and seizure, meaning that they must have probable cause. This is the requirement in criminal law that there is enough evidence to conduct a search or seizure of private property that is related to the crime.
With or without a warrant, the police may also perform this procedure if they have probable cause, but they can only search for the items that relate to the alleged crime. If they produce items related to other crimes, these items may be subject to the exclusionary rule, meaning the prosecution may not use them against the accused if it turns out that the search and seizure was illegal.
A strong defense team will look for police errors in the arrest or search procedure, question the evidence or witness accounts, or investigate any duress or entrapment their client may have suffered in order to obtain the best possible results for their client’s case.