Every day, people who are arrested react in the wrong way and doom their chances of avoiding jail. There are a few simple guidelines that everyone arrested for any charge, from DUI/DWI to assault with a deadly weapon, should follow to help their cases.
This is the most important guideline of all. You have a right to remain silent, and that means you do not have to answer any questions. You may think that you can talk your way out of trouble, but you may accidentally reveal something that the police will use as evidence against you. The situation is more common than one might imagine. By the time the attorney sees a client, he or she has spoken too much to the police without representation and has significantly damaged any chances in court.
Unless you are experienced with our criminal justice system, you probably do not know the intricacies of the law, and might admit to something that is illegal—even though you don’t realize it. You could, for example, say something that the police officer will misinterpret as a confession or the officer could write down what you said incorrectly. Now you are faced with not only the situation that brought you to the police, but you have to explain how the officer’s version is wrong. In other words, you just made it harder on yourself.
Be polite and respectful.
You can refuse to answer questions without being rude. Simply say, “I’m sorry, I prefer to consult a lawyer before answering that.”
Get a lawyer
If you do not have a lawyer prior to their interrogation, the police must provide you with one if you ask them. As soon as you ask for a lawyer, they are legally required to stop all questioning until your lawyer is present. This is true even if you cannot afford an attorney. They must provide one.
It will not always be easy to follow these guidelines. Anyone who has been arrested is bound to be upset and have trouble remaining respectful. And it may be difficult to remain silent when an officer is threatening to put you in jail or turn your children over to protective services if you don’t cooperate. In almost all situations, it is advisable to have an attorney present before answering questions. It may be uncomfortable to wait and remain silent, but if you accidentally land yourself in jail you will have risked it for nothing. Take deep breaths, hold your temper, and calmly ask for an attorney.
A leader in the criminal defense and legal communities, Mr. Howe has served as Past-President for the Palm Beach County Bar Association and the Palm Beach Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. He served as director of the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and currently serves on its executive committee.
To discuss how we will fight to protect your rights, contact us online, or call us at 561-296-7772 or toll-free at 866-930-2938. During your first meeting, Mr. Howe will examine your case and determine the best way to help you fight the charges you are facing.
We are committed to fighting your fight, protecting your rights and the rights of your family to ensure that you receive justice and nothing less.