Fairfax Criminal Lawyer Explains Your Constitutional Rights
As soon as you are arrested by law enforcement, you are immediately placed at a decided disadvantage. Police officers are well-schooled in leveraging your uncertainty and fear against you to get you to give up your rights. But as a Fairfax criminal lawyer, I cannot overemphasize the importance of knowing your rights and asserting those rights. Knowing and asserting your rights can literally be the difference between winning and losing a criminal case. You MUST be prepared to know what to do before you are arrested, and that is why I have provided the information below.
Invoke Your Right to Remain Silent
First, and perhaps most importantly, you must ALWAYS invoke your Fifth Amendment Right to Remain Silent. That means no matter what, you must never volunteer any statements or information, nor should you consent to any searches of your property. The only exception exists if the officer asks for your name and/or your government issued ID. (i.e. driver’s license, passport, etc). Before even thinking about speaking with law enforcement or consenting to a search, you should always invoke your right to an attorney and consult with a Fairfax criminal lawyer first.
We have all heard the phrase “You have the right to remain silent…” When you hear a police officer read you your Miranda rights, it’s time to shut your mouth and say nothing more than “I don’t have anything to say until I get a lawyer.” Once you invoke your right to remain silent, the police cannot further interrogate you or attempt to elicit any statements from you without your attorney present. In other words, they must stop any interrogation immediately. You have a right to remain silent. Use it! You have the right to an attorney. Use it!
The Police Will Lie to You
Second, you must ALWAYS keep the following in mind: The police will lie to you! In fact, not only are they allowed to lie, they are encouraged to do so if they believe it will lead to the discovery of admissible, incriminating evidence. As a Fairfax criminal lawyer, my hope is that by educating others on the proper techniques to use during future police encounters, they will avoid unintentionally relinquishing their rights. People always question why they shouldn’t speak with police officers even when they have done nothing wrong. The answer is that when a person voluntarily speaks to law enforcement after being arrested, charged, or even if merely under investigation, the results are almost never good.
Generally, what happens is that by simply trying to explain the situation so that an officer can understand that you did nothing wrong, you may unwittingly say something by mistake or out of confusion and that statement can and will be used against you in court. Make no mistake, the police will use deception and intimidation to try to get you to talk to them and give up your rights. During their training at the academy, police are taught how to leverage your desire to escape a negative situation against you. Remember: You have 4th and 5th Amendment rights. Use them!
In the section directly below, I provide some insight into the tricks police officers use to get you to unwittingly give up your rights.
Requests Which Are Disguised as Commands
You cannot be forced to take field sobriety tests or answer an officer’s questions, but law enforcement is trained to use certain words and tone of voice to make you believe that their request is actually a lawful order. Law enforcement is hoping that you think you are required to obey that order. When a police officer says “I’m going to need you to answer some questions” what they really are saying is “I’m hoping that you might be willing to answer some questions.” Just because the police are hoping that you to respond to their questions, it does not mean that you are required to or that you have to give up your right to remain silent.
Big Request/Little Request
Sometimes, police make requests seem more reasonable by first asking you to do something completely unreasonable. By way of example, a police officer might ask you to come into the police station to provide a formal statement. If you refuse (which a police officer knows you probably will), they might then ask you to simply provide an “informal” statement then and there. Remember, you must always invoke your 5th Amendment right to remain silent until after you have received the counsel of a Fairfax criminal lawyer.
Norm of Reciprocity
This is an age-old trick of law enforcement which normally goes like this: A police officer will try to convince you that if you provide them what they want (a confession or permission/consent to perform a warrantless search), that they will then give you what you want (i.e. let you go). When you think about what they are doing, however, it really makes no sense. I mean, why would the police want you to confess if they really intended to let you go? They wouldn’t!
What the police actually want is for you to incriminate yourself so that they can arrest you. Don’t fall for it! The police cannot fulfill promises about what will happen to you – they generally are not provided that kind of discretion. What they will do, however, is lie to you so that you believe they will actually let you go. Your statements CAN and WILL be used against you, and if you permit the police to perform a warrantless search, you waive your rights to privacy.
Fear / Intimidation
Being confronted by a police officer can be a frightening and nerve-wracking experience. Police officers are armed with handguns, batons, and Tasers. That is intimidating enough as it is. But then when you consider the prevalence of police brutality – which, in large part, is perpetrated against completely innocent people – the thought of being confronted by law enforcement can become infinitely more frightening. Police training, police cars, and even police uniforms are designed to be intimidating. No matter what you do, remain calm during any police encounter you may have. Be mindful to not make sudden movements and always keep your hands in plain sight so that the officers know that you are not a threat. At the same time, however, you must also remember to invoke your right to remain silent and your right to an attorney and avoid falling for their deceptive tactics.
Do Not Consent to Any Searches
Third, the Fourth Amendment provides us protection against unreasonable searches and seizures by the government. If a police officer asks your permission to conduct a search, you can object by telling the officer “I do not consent to any searches.” An officer will likely conduct the search anyway, but that search may lack probable cause – in which case the fruits of that search will be inadmissible in court.
As explained in further detail in my article entitled “Never Consent to Searches,” once you consent to a search, your Fairfax criminal lawyer will not be allowed to argue that the police conducted the search without probable cause. Additionally, a police officer cannot detain you without having a reasonable suspicion that you may have been involved in criminal activity. Feel free to ask whether you are free to go. If they say “yes”, get the heck out of there! If they say “no,” ask to speak with your Fairfax criminal lawyer.
Fairfax Criminal Lawyer Explains What to Do if You Are Stopped for DUI
If you are stopped at a checkpoint or pulled over on suspicion of being DUI, the officer will likely ask you to submit to a breathalyzer test. You are not required to take the test. However, refusing to take the test will result in a license suspension for one year. Likewise, you are not required to submit to any field sobriety test which, in actuality, are highly inaccurate. Only when you are arrested are you legally obligated to submit to a breathalyzer.
If a police officer asks if you’ve consumed any alcoholic beverages, you are not required to answer this question. Instead, you can respond by asking the officer why he/she would even ask you that question and politely inform the officer that you are not keen on cooperating with an investigation designed to have you wind up in handcuffs. Just remember: If you start getting the feeling that the police are accusing you of something, they are. Hire a Fairfax criminal lawyer to defend your rights and fight for you.
Contact a Fairfax Criminal Lawyer Today
The long and short of it is this: Law enforcement (Fairfax Police, Virginia State Police, etc.) are ramping up their vigilance of DUI’s and other crimes. If you or a loved one has been arrest or charged with DUI or any other crime in Fairfax County, you need an aggressive, skilled, and affordable Fairfax Criminal Lawyer to protect your rights and assert any and all possible defenses. Call the Law Offices of Randall Sousa today for a free consultation with a Fairfax criminal lawyer. 571-354-6164 or 571-328-6825.
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By: Randall Sousa
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The Law Offices of Randall Sousa provides clients throughout Virginia with affordable, professional, and aggressive criminal defense legal services. If you have been arrested, charged with a crime, or are under investigation, call us now for a Free Consultation.
Fairfax Criminal Defense Attorney Randall Sousa possesses a deep commitment and passion for criminal defense, and he is relentless when it comes to fighting for his clients in each and every case.
Law Offices of Randall Sousa
3007 Williams Drive
Fairfax, VA 22031