Did you know that if the police violate your Constitutional rights, the case against you may be legally required to be dismissed even if you were caught committing a crime red-handed? The law bans evidence collected in violation of your rights from being used in court, so there could be no way for them to prove the case against you. Here are some of your most common rights and how to make sure you protect them.
Right to Be Free From Unreasonable Searches
Except for rare circumstances, usually involving imminent safety threats or the strong possibility of evidence being destroyed, police either need your permission or a warrant to conduct a search. Without either, any evidence they find may be thrown out.
Police will usually do everything they can to get you to agree to a search. They might say they're going to find the evidence anyway, that you will make things easier on yourself, or that you'd agree to a search if you didn't have anything to hide.
Never agree to a search. Clearly state "I do not consent to any searches" and inform them they don't have permission if they start looking around without asking you.
Right to Remain Silent
If a police officer asks you a question, you do not have to answer. Even if you've agreed to answer questions, you can stop at any time.
Like with searches, police will try to pressure you. They might even promise leniency if you agree to talk. Be aware that in many cases, police are allowed to lie.
When questioned, inform them that you are exercising your right to remain silent and do not wish to speak with them. If they try to talk you out of it, firmly and politely repeat yourself until they respect your rights.
Right to An Attorney
You have the right to have an attorney present during any police questioning. This right is to level the playing field to protect you against common interrogation tricks.
Once you request an attorney, the police are required by law to stop asking you questions. If you clearly state that you want a lawyer, they're not allowed to try to talk you out of it. Once you ask for a lawyer, you can't give up your right to one until you've spoken with one.
For more information, contact Jeffrey D. Larson, Attorney at Law or a similar legal professional.