No one plans on being arrested, but because the experience has big implications for your future, it is important to understand your rights and what you should be doing when the unexpected happens. At Scott H. Palmer, P.C., our Addison criminal defense lawyers work with clients throughout the Dallas region who have had encounters with various law enforcement agencies. Given our extensive experience representing the accused – and Attorney Scott Palmer’s Board Certification as a Criminal Law Specialist by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization – we know there are more than a few ways suspects can compromise their case or make matters worse during the arrest process.
To help you understand your legal rights and steps that should be taken any time you find yourself facing law enforcement or the prospect of an arrest, we have compiled the following tips:
- Don’t talk – The single most important thing you can remember when facing an arrest is that talking will never help you. While some people may believe they can talk their way out of a ticket or an arrest, the fact is that if law enforcement officers have probable cause, they will arrest you. Talking will only provide information that can be used against you, even if you believe what you’re saying has nothing to do with guilt. By speaking, you risk giving police information that could connect you with a crime, or place you in a circumstance where prosecutors can allege you committed a crime, even if you did not. Talking about your arrest and the circumstances surrounding it is a matter best left to defense attorneys who practice in the courts. In the field, you should be respectful to police and politely invoke your Fifth Amendment right to remain silent. Doing so may not prevent an arrest, but it may very well make the difference in your defense and case.
- Remain calm – It is important to remain calm during an arrest, as there are risks associated with failing to comply or resisting, even if you believe you are within your rights. Should a situation get out of hand due to emotional outbursts, you open the door to providing evidence that can be used against you, or even to additional charges and penalties. Remember, an arrest will take place if law enforcement has probable cause. Arguing will do nothing to benefit your case.
- Remember your rights – An understanding of your rights as a criminal suspect and defendant should help shape your conduct should you find yourself facing an arrest. Remember that all defendants are entitled to a presumption of innocence, meaning they are considered innocent until proven guilty. An arrest does not mean you are guilty. When law enforcement officers make an arrest, they do so because they believe they have probable cause (this can be challenged later). As such, you should not resist or speak, and instead remember that it is your right to defend yourself against the charges, and to have legal representation who can help you make the most of this opportunity.
- You don’t have to consent to a search – Law enforcement officers need a valid search warrant, arrest warrant, or probable cause to search you or your property. In some circumstances, this prevents them from searching anything and everything if it is not explicitly stated in a warrant or related to their probable cause (i.e. searching your home when you are stopped in your car nearby). If a law enforcement officer asks for your consent to search, you can respectfully decline. If they have valid reason to do so, they will conduct a search. During your defense, you can challenge the basis of their search to ensure they did not violate your rights.
- Call a lawyer – In the critical moments following an arrest, calling a lawyer is one of the wisest things you can do. By enlisting the immediate help of a defense attorney, you can ensure you take the right steps as you navigate the court system and your defense, and begin building a case that challenges the accusations the government has made against you. Remember, while you may have the right to a public defender, they are notoriously overburdened and under-resourced, and simply cannot devote the time and attention to your case it requires.
If you or a loved one have been arrested in Addison, TX or any of the surrounding areas, do not hesitate to speak with a criminal defense attorney from Scott H. Palmer, P.C. Our legal team is standing by to take your call. Contact us for a FREE consultation.