Recently a former police officer wrote an article discussing police culture. His hope, as he put it, if the truth came “straight from the pig’s mouth” maybe folks would listen.
The jist of it, cops lie.
It begins in training where officers are bombarded with videos portraying colleagues getting shot and seriously injured on duty. Backed by the motto, “I’d rather be judged by 12 than carried by 6,” officers are brainwashed everyone is out to kill them. Their safe place is their fellow officers, with whom they should do anything for, even if it includes lying, covering up, or turning the other cheek. Right from the beginning young officers develop an “us against the world” mentality.
Over time officers, even begin to desire violence. A disturbing game within the department, where those who have killed encourage first kills.
The officer goes on to give hard examples of police lying, including:
- Lying about the law;
- Lying about what cops can do to you;
- Lying about their own fear to justify using force against you;
- Lying about police reports;
- Lying in police reports;
- Lying they will “put in a good word for you with the DA”
- Lying if you cooperate it will “look good”
- Lying about what they see to conduct an unlawful search;
- Lying about what they hear to conduct an unlawful search;
- Lying about what a witness said;
- Lying about not arresting you if you’re “honest”
- Lying about what they smell to search containers
- Lying about what they can charge you with.
In calling for change, the writer incudes a laundry list of serious problems within the departments. Like a flesh eating virus eating away one’s skin from the inside-out, the disturbing footage we ultimately see, begins early on within the ranks. A system the cop calls “broken beyond repair.”
Adding to the fuel (and less spoken about) a separate article addresses prosecutors. Specifically, the many prosecutors that enable this police conduct by either not holding them accountable or even endorsing their unlawful behavior.
The bottom line, is the system is flawed, very flawed. It is unknown what changes will come, but by knowing your rights, you can protect yourself. So what should you do if you find yourself in such a situation?
- Record (you have every right);
- Request, If you are free to leave; If yes, leave. If no say, “I’d be happy to cooperate with my attorney present.”
- Refrain from talking.
When you implement these rights the officer must stop asking you questions and has a choice to either arrest you (if he or she has enough evidence) or let you go.
The day has not gone as planned and you or someone you know has found themselves arrested. Cramped in the back seat of a police vehicle, hands behind their (or your) back held together by the relentless grip of steel handcuffs. Now you need to know what to do to get them (or yourself) out of this. What follows is a comprehensive explanation of everything you need to know to successfully navigate the criminal justice system from the beginning of the arrest to finding the best criminal defense lawyer to getting the best possible outcome.
The Beginning: The Arrest
What NOT To Do When You are Arrested
1. Don’t talk about what happened.
If you are approached by the police or pulled over by an officer and the officer believes you were or may be engaged in criminal activity they will begin their investigation. Anything you answer, anything you say will be used against you.
A common misconception is if the police did not read you your miranda rights, it doesn’t matter what you say. This is not true. Your miranda rights only attach once you have been formally arrested. Even then, any information you volunteer can still be used against you.
If you are asked any questions, you may simply reply “I’d be happy to cooperate with my attorney present.” Rinse and repeat.
2. Don’t make a run for it.
If you make a run for it, best case you catch an evading charge on top of the original charge. Worst case, you end up with a bullet. Don’t take the chance. Live for your day in court.
3. Don’t resist the arrest.
Like evading, there is an entirely separate charge for resisting arrest. On top of that, your legal fees will be higher, the officers involved will remember you and put in that extra effort in preparing their offense report. Prosecutors as well aren’t big fans of people who resist arrest and are less likely to be reasonable when discussing offers on your case. If you resist you won’t when the battle and it makes it more difficult to when the war.
4. Don’t consent to a search of your car.
We all have rights, but we can waive those rights. The quickest and easiest way to waive your Constitutional rights is by replying “yes” to an officer’s request to search your vehicle. Don’t let them. Even if you have nothing to hide. It will give your criminal defense attorney another bullet in fighting your case down the road.
5. Don’t consent to a breath or blood test if you have been arrested for a DWI or DUI.
A typical DWI or DUI investigation begins with the officer asking you “If you have had anything to drink” and ends with a request for either a breath or blood specimen. You can and should refuse both the breath and blood specimen and can even refuse to do the field sobriety exercises (we like to call them what they really are coordination exercises). Don’t worry about consequences with your driver’s license, the truth is your driver’s license may never get suspended. Let your DWI lawyer worry about the your driver’s license. When you refuse the police may or may not get a warrant to draw you blood. Make them do it. You’d be surprised how often this process gets messed up, resulting in any blood alcohol level getting suppressed (i.e. can’t be used against you).
Pro-Tip: You can also refuse to do the field sobriety exercises.
6. Don’t believe the police.
Police can lie under the Texas law and do lie under Texas law. They are trained to know the elements of a crime and will get you to incriminate yourself, if you allow them. Remember, “I’d be happy to cooperate, with my attorney present.”
7. Don’t talk about who you know.
Maybe you know the District Attorney, maybe your uncle is a police officer. Regardless, the cop arresting you does not care and will allow you to carry on in the back seat of the police car while recording it all on video.
8. Remember, you are on video.
When you are on the street, the officer likely not only has body cam recording what you do and say, but also dash-cam in his or her police vehicle. When you are in the back of the police car this police video tools are still rolling. The best thing to do is to zip the lips.
9. If you are with someone else, have them video.
Under Texas law a passenger in your car or a witness at the scene is legally allowed to record the police encounter as long as they are not interfering with the investigation. Police don’t like bystanders recording, however it is perfectly legal to do so and can often be helpful to the criminal defense attorney you hire to fight your case.
10. If the police come to your home, do not let them in unless they show a warrant.
Again we all have rights. The police are not allowed into your home absent a warrant to search your house. If they ask to come inside, respond with “Do you have a warrant?” If they say yes, make them show it to you. If they have a search warrant, there isn’t much you can do, but let them in. If they don’t however, know your rights, and stand strong.
In the end, do your best to stay calm. This arrest will pass and if you play your cards right, your criminal defense lawyer may pull a rabbit out the hat and get all your charges dropped. Every day across the United States people are arrested. Often for crimes they didn’t commit. Know you are not alone (chart).
At the Jail: Processing and Setting Bond.
Your police escort has arrived at the police station (county jail). In bigger counties, like Harris County (Houston), you may first be brought to a smaller substation before transportation to the larger main hub station.
Once you are brought into the station, you will begin processing; and processing is S-L-O-W. You can expect to be sitting around for at least eight hours (likely more) before the outside air hits your lungs again.
After some general housekeeping, you will go in front of a magistrate or judge. This person will listen to probable cause (read by a prosecutor), determine if probable cause exists, and set an appropriate bond for the criminal accusation/s. It is important that you do not talk about your case or become argumentative during this routine criminal procedure as the procedure is recorded. Chances are you will disagree with the probable cause summary the arresting officer typed for the prosecutor to read. Don’t worry, your criminal defense attorney will have an opportunity down the road to present your side of the story.
Bonding Out of Jail or Posting Bond.
There are 3 Types of Bonds in a Criminal Case:
- Cash Bond: A cash bond is where you post the entire amount of the bond yourself. If the bond is $1000, you pay $1000. No bonding company is needed or used here. You (a relative or friend) are putting up the money guaranteeing your appearance in court. If you fail to appear for court your money will be forfeited. If you make all your required court appearances the money will be returned to once your case is complete (i.e. disposed of).
- Surety Bond: This is the most common method with the least amount of upfront hassle. Here you contact and pay an approved bonding company or attorney to post the bond. Bonding companies generally charge between 10-15% of the total bond amount. For example if your bond is $10,000, then you will pay the bonding company 10% or $1000. Unlike a cash bond, you will not get your money back once your case is disposed. Beware: Not all bonding companies are created equal. Some require not only more money or collateral up front, but more bond conditions (i.e. call ins, check ins, etc.) as well. Call a couple bonding companies or call a criminal lawyer who should know a reputable bonding company (if your lawyer doesn’t know a reputable bonding company, then they probably aren’t doing a ton of criminal defense work). As an example, I can name three off the top of my head.
- Personal Recognizance (PR) Bond: A personal recognizance bond or “PR” bond is based on a person’s promise to appear in court with no security (i.e. money) needed. PR bonds are becoming more and more common in State court as long as a person does not have a lengthy rap sheet or is not charged with a serious, violent crime.
Once You Have Been Released from Jail.
Have a friend or relative ready to pick you up, with the understanding it could very well be in the middle of the night. When you are released you will receive all your personal belongings back, along with your bonding papers. Your bonding papers will tell you when, where and what time your first court date is. This is important because if you are late or miss your first court date, the judge can revoke your bond, issue an arrest warrant, and put you back in custody
As a sidenote, if you were arrested for DWI or DUI you will also receive a temporary driver’s license (because the officers should have confiscated your Texas driver’s license). This temporary license is on the a form known as the DIC – 25. One of those forms, the DIC-25, states this is your temporary driver’s license. Keep the form with you for the time being and your DWI lawyer can explain more upon meeting with him or her.
If you were arrested for an assault type offense, the judge will sign a protective order as part of your bond conditions prohibiting you from going near the alleged victim.
Top 5 Things to Look For in Hiring a Good Criminal Defense Lawyer.
You’ve are now out on bond and have an upcoming court date. Time to find the right criminal defense attorney for your case.
1. Your Criminal Defense Lawyer, should be a Criminal Defense Lawyer.
That is, your criminal defense lawyer should primarily practice criminal defense. You would not see an orthopedic surgeon if you were having heart problems, and you shouldn’t see a family lawyer or civil lawyer with your life, liberty, and freedom on the line.
2. Your Criminal Defense Lawyer should come with board certification.
The Texas Board of Legal Specialization was established by the State bar of Texas and certifies twenty-one select areas of law. Of the nearly 100,000 attorneys in Texas, only 7,000 are board certified. This recognized specialization exists to acknowledge the most qualified attorneys in their respective area of law.
3. Your Criminal Defense Attorney should be active in relevant defense organizations.
Any lawyer who is serious about their occupation and in turn serious about the results achieved will be active in organizations related to their craft. In Houston there is the Harris County Criminal Lawyers Association. In Texas there is the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association. Nationally there is the National Criminal Defense Lawyers Association. All of the above organizations provide guidance, assistance and support to criminal defense lawyers seeking to obtain the best possible results.
4. Your criminal defense attorney should be able to show you results.
It’s easy to talk a big game, but in this industry, it is the results that matter. Ask if the attorney has handled similar cases. Ask if the attorney can show you results from similar cases. A good criminal defense lawyer will be able to back up his or her results. How long has the firm been in business? A good criminal law firm will have continued business because their clients walk away satisfied, and subsequently refer new clients.
5. How much is the legal fee?
The all important question and unfortunately all too often the leading reason a person hires a particular lawyer. Understand lawyers, like cars, come in all different shapes, sizes, abilities and price. While you should seek the best criminal lawyer you can afford, you should not seek the cheapest. You get what you pay for! Think about it, an attorney’s fee reflects the confidence in that attorney’s ability. If they are cheap then they probably don’t place much value in their time, effort, or ability. If they are more expensive, the opposite holds true. While you may not be able to afford the most expensive attorney in town, you should expect to hire the most expensive criminal lawyer you can afford. You will thank yourself in the end.
Criminal Lawyer Fee Arrangements.
Legal fees for your criminal attorney vary depending on many factors such as the nature and seriousness of the charge/s, the number of charges, the county the charges are pending, the stage of the charges, any prior criminal charges or convictions, and more.
The Non-Trial Criminal Attorney Fee
In a typical situation a person contacts a criminal lawyer because they have a warrant out for their arrest or they have been arrested and now out on bond. In these instances, most attorneys will charge a flat non-trial fee. Because of the stakes, and unlike divorce lawyers (hourly legal fee) or civil plaintiff lawyers (contingent fee), criminal law firms choose flat fees because they typically know not only how much work is necessary to get the required result, but also understand the client and the client’s family have enough to worry about other than how much a phone call to their attorney is going to cost them. Flat fees eliminate grey area and has proven to be the best criminal lawyer fee structure.
While it will vary from criminal lawyer to criminal lawyer, non-trial flat fees typically cover court appearances, client meetings, discussions and plea bargaining with the prosecutors, and pre-trial motions.
The Attorney Trial Fee
Should the case eventually get to where the prosecutor is not willing to dismiss the case and you do not want to accept the deal the prosecutor is offering, the case will be set for trial. At this time, most criminal lawyers will require additional legal fees or what is commonly referred to as a trial fee. Prior to hiring your criminal lawyer you should discuss the anticipated cost should the case have to go to trial.
Other Legal Fee Factors to Know
- While most criminal attorneys break their fees down into non-trial and trial-fees, we are aware of some defense attorneys who do not do so, choosing instead to combine both the pre-trial and trial fee into one lump sum.
- Watch out for attorneys who charge by the court appearance (e.g. $250 per court appearance). No reputable criminal attorney we are aware of structures their legal fees this way.
- Depending on the type of case there can also be additional legal fees in the form of investigation fees. expert witness fees, record sealing or record erasing fees, bond violation fees, pretrial intervention violation, deferred adjudication violations, or probation violation fees, etc.
- Lastly, if you have not been arrested, but have been contacted by a police officer and are concerned, a criminal lawyer may charge an investigation fee to act as a buffer between you and the officer. Often, if you retain a criminal attorney to contact the officer he or she may be able to keep charges from being filed or to convince the investigating officer to file less serious charges. While it does not mean your case is doomed if you have already spoken with the police, it is best to never speak to the police if you are under investigation or if you believe you may be under investigation. If you are caught off guard, it is best to tell the police “you’d be happy to cooperate with your attoney present.” You need not say anymore or less and you need to stick to your guns. Police are legally allowed to lie to try and get you to talk. Know your constitutionally protected rights and engage those rights.
If you have been charged with a crime, your life, your liberty, and your freedom is on the line. You should exhaust all resources to get the best criminal defense attorney you can afford. Whether you like it or not, whether you are willing to accept it or not, the truth about the criminal justice system is that it is a money system. Those that can gather the finances are able to deploy more lawyers, more resources, and more tools to defeat the criminal charges.
The Middle: Appearing in Criminal Court
Get to Court Early
Depending on the county and the location of the courthouse, parking can be difficult to find; security lines can get backed up; and elevators can move slowly. Make sure to give yourself plenty of time to be in court on time. Arriving late can lead to the judge revoking your bond and putting you back in custody.
How to Dress for Criminal Court
The Judge, the prosecutors and the court staff all take note of the people in the courtroom. As such, you should dress appropriately for court. For men, that means, at the very least, slacks or pants and a collared shirt tucked in. For woman, that means pants and a blouse or a conservative dress. Think about what you would wear if you went to church.
What to Expect at Your First Criminal Court Appearance
On your first court appearance, expect things to move slowly. Parking can be a problem. Security lines can be a problem. Elevators can be a problem. Make sure to give yourself plenty of time to be in a courtroom seat by the time the Judge calls the docket.
Your criminal lawyer will likely meet you in the courtroom either prior to or after docket call. Sometimes your attorney will have other courts he or she needs to be in before appearing for your court. Be patient. Your criminal defense attorney has not forgotten you.
Once your criminal attorney arrives, he or she will take a glance at the file, fill out an attorney of record (if it hasn’t been done already), talk to the prosecutors and then reset your criminal case for about four week.
The reason the case will be reset is so the attorneys can gather and evaluate the evidence. The burden is on the prosecutors and they need to see if they have enough evidence to actually prosecute.
Unless your case is going to be dismissed, DO NOT accept a plea bargain on your first court date. If your attorney suggests this, find another one.
What to Expect in Subsequent Criminal Court Appearances.
As the case continues and you continue to make appearances in criminal court, your attorney will be receiving more and more evidence for evaluation. This process, like many others in the criminal justice system, can be slow and to be honest, this is a good thing. Parties involved cool down, witnesses move, police officers get in trouble, lab analysts quit, a number of things can happen that can improve the chance of your case being dismissed. Be patient and trust the process. Your focus should be on 1) not getting in any additional trouble and 2) abiding by any bond conditions, such as appearing for court on time.
Eventually the judge is going to want to know the status of the case. At this point most of the evidence has likely been received. Your criminal lawyer should be pushing for a dismissal. If the prosecutor agrees the case should be dismissed. If so, congratulations your case is over. If the prosecutor disagrees, they will make an offer. You will then have the option of deciding whether you want to accept their offer or push the case for trial.
Accepting the Offer:
There is a lot more that goes into it, but in a nutshell, if you accept the offer you will:
- Go over the offer with your attorney;
- Review and complete the necessary paperwork with you attorney;
- If you are receiving something along the lines of anger management class and dismiss or drug and alcohol class and dismiss, you will be given time to complete the requirement and the case will be dismissed.
- If you are receiving pretrial intervention, deferred adjudication, or probation you will have to fill out additional paperwork with the Community Liaison Officer (CLO).
- Once the paperwork is complete and sworn to with the court clerk, you will then go in front of the judge to enter your plea.
- The judge has the power to accept or reject the plea, because of that be honest and be respectful. Don’t speak more than is asked or necessary.
- If there is jail time attached to the offer, you may be given time to turn yourself in at a later date
Rejecting the Offer:
You may decide it is in your best interest to decline the offer. Understand, that even if you decline the offer, it does not mean your case still can’t be dismissed. In fact, our criminal defense lawyers have received many dismissals a week, a couple days before, or even the day of a trial. This happens because the prosecution may have problems finding a witness, a witness may not show up, the prosecutor realizes they can’t prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt, etc.
Sealing Your Criminal Record After the Case is Complete
Maybe your case is dismissed, maybe you go all the way to trial and are found not guilty, whatever the final result, you may be interested in cleaning up your record.
A nondisclosure order blocks your record from the general public (most employers included). District Attorneys, Law Enforcement, & Certain Texas Licensing Agencies still retain access.
For years a nondisclosure was reserved for those who received deferred adjudication. That is, those who entered a plea of guilty, but the judge withheld a finding of guilt and instead deferred that finding on the condition that certain provisions were met (i.e. community supervision). Once completed, a person was eligible for a nondisclosure, immediately for most misdemeanors and after a certain time period for felonies.
Today, not only can a person receive a nondisclosure after successfully completing deferred adjudication, but also after certain convictions, including Driving While Intoxicated, provided the person has no other criminal history. So if for example you received time served on a DWI (i.e. you get jail credit for the night you were arrested) and pay a fine, and have no prior criminal history, you could get that DWI conviction blocked from the public.
An expunction erases your record as if the arrest or accusation never happened. An expunction is typically reserved for dismissals and not guilty’s. So if you case was dismissed or if you went to trial and were found not guilty you can demolish any record of the arrest.
For some that is as Houston Police move to end “no knock” warrants.
Cell phones perform their wide and growing variety of functions by continuously connecting to a set of radio antennas called “cell sites.” Each time a phone connects to a cell site, it generates a time stamped record known as cell site location information (CSLI). Wireless carries collect and store this information for their own business purpose. A person’s phone number and phone records may then be used to pinpoint their location over a specific time period.
The question is whether the government may seize the phone records without fist obtaining a warrant supported by probable cause.
The answer as seen in Carpenter v. United States is yes.
In Carpenter, the government acquired the defendant’s phone records via a court order (as opposed to a probable cause warrant) to pinpoint his location and show he (or his phone) was at the location where several robberies took place.
On appeal, the United States Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision ruled a person has an expectation of privacy in the wealth of information provided by cell sites, including their location, and the 4th Amendment applies. As such, absent a lawful warrant supported by probable cause, the phone records were obtained unlawfully and should not have been used at trial.
You are a parent.
You take zero chances.
Your staff includes private tutors and coaches.
It includes insurance agents and doctors.
It should also include a criminal defense attorney.
“We don’t need a family criminal lawyer; we aren’t criminals.”
Statistics from the National Survey of Youth show there is a 1 in 3 chance your child is arrested before age twenty-three. A startling and rather unspoken truth. Adolescent arrests have grown as a result of tough on crime legislation, harsh sentences, and an increase in government spending and police forces.
Today, everything is a crime. What you once knew as a slap on the wrists (a crime) is now a slap in cuffs. Rivalry week pranks are a crime. After school fights are a crime. The senior courting the sophomore can be a crime. The teacher your son daydreams of is now not only attainable but also a crime. Yes, your high school is a far cry from your teenager’s high school. So while the private coach trains your Olympic-bound child (1 in 662,000 chance) or the private tutor prepares your prodigy child for that perfect ACT score (1 in 14,000 chance), your family’s odds of needing a criminal defense attorney is significantly higher (1 in 3 chance).
“. . . but not my kid.”
Hopefully not, but honeymooners aren’t thinking about divorce (1 in 2 chance) either. The law, particularly criminal law, is intimidating. Public perception reserves criminal courtrooms for the nation’s bottom-feeders. However, step inside the criminal courthouse and you will see a different story. You will find people who are lost; angry and defiant people; people who suffer from mental disabilities; victims of physical and mental abuse; people with hidden drug and alcohol addictions; people who found themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time; and people with solid homes and good families. Sound Familiar?
A teenager’s struggle is real and adding to it is the criminal
injustice justice system. A flawed system where lawmakers, officers, judges, prosecutors, and defense attorneys have all been guilty at times of getting it wrong and doing it wrong.
This hard reality led Lisa Green, author of “On Your Case: A Compassionate (and Only Slightly Bossy) Legal Guide for Every Stage of a Woman’s Life,” to emphasize the need for every parent of a teen to have a criminal defense attorney on speed dial. Legal insurance to protect children and parents who can be held civilly and criminally liable should the unexpected occur.
“If something comes up, it won’t, but if it does, I’ll find a local criminal defense attorney.”
You won’t have time. Suspected of unlawful activity, within seconds your child is whisked away to the principle’s office. There police officers and school officials wait. Cell phones are confiscated, backpacks are searched, and statements are made. Your teen’s constitutional rights
ignored waived when they should have been protected. Protection in the form of preparation. Preparation by spending the time to find a trusted criminal attorney capable of educating your family on life-altering encounters with authorities.
You won’t have time, but let’s assume you did. When your teen needs medical attention, you call your doctor. Sure, you may check out WebMD (1 in 3 chance of being correct), with the caveat a qualified doctor is necessary to diagnosis, treat, and in serious instances save. If your teenager finds himself in a legal jam, Google equals not an attorney. Most legal information is not only vague but incorrect, written by second-year employees at John Doe Web Design, hung-over from last night’s “bro-fest.” Instead, your family criminal attorney can quickly diagnosis, treat, and in serious instances save you and your family.
You are a parent.
You take zero chances.
Your staff includes private tutors and coaches.
It includes insurance agents and doctors.
It should also include a criminal defense attorney.
If not, may the odds be forever in your favor.
The United States Supreme Court in Utah v. Strieff held an unlawful stop may be legitimized by the later discovery of a traffic warrant. A disturbing finding that only strengthens the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals similar position in Mazuca v. State. 375 S.W.3d 294 (Tex. Crim. App. 2012). As we enter the latter half of this decade, our highest courts seem all to willing to bend over backwards and uphold unlawful arrests.
Criminal Attorney – Recording the Police, Dos and Don’ts.
In Texas you are legally allowed to record police encounters as long as you do not interfere with their work (a.k.a. interfering with public duties). Police may harass you, detain you, or try to intimidate you, but they can not arrest you for merely recording them. Recordings have exonerated many people, and often times is the only available, credible evidence.
Criminal Attorney – Don’t: Share your recording with the police.
You are not legally required to do so.
Criminal Attorney – Do: Respond politely, but firmly to police questions.
Officer: “What are you doing?” or “Stop recording, it’s against the law.”
Response: “Officer, I am exerting my 1st Amendment right to record?”
Texas, for example, is a one-party state. Meaning permission to record is only needed by one-party. You are that party.
Don’t Respond: “Making sure you are doing your job right?” or “I don’t trust you.
Criminal Attorney – Do: “Stand Back.”
If you’re approaching the scene of an investigation or an accident, police will likely order you to move back. While you do have a right to be there, you don’t want to interfere with police investigations. Keep an appropriate distance.
Criminal Attorney – Do: Understand when you have to show your I.D.
Officer: “Let me see your I.D.”
Response: “Officer, are you detaining me, or am I free to go?”
If you are being detained, I.D. yourself. If the officer does not have reasonable suspicion to believe you are involved in criminal activity, and is not detaining you, you do not have to show him identification. You can either leave or hold your ground. But…
Do: Know when to walk away.
Officer: “Shut it off or I’ll arrest you”.
At this point you are risking arrest in order to test the boundaries of free speech. If police say they’ll arrest you, believe them. It may not be a lawful arrest, but that hasn’t stopped police before.
If you keep recording, brace yourself for arrest. If you are arrested, don’t resist. As with any arrest, you have the right to remain silent until you speak with a criminal attorney. Contact your criminal attorney as soon as possible.
Do: Understand the 1st Amendment.
Officer’s may try and trick you into believing the 1st amendment -right to record – only applies to mainstream media journalist. It doesn’t.
As with many police encounters your attitude can make the difference in whether you will soon be required to post bond. Understand your rights and understand how to assert them.
Texas Criminal Defense and Police at your Home:
There is no greater protection to police searches and seizures than in your home. Understanding how to exercise those protections is crucial to prevent unwanted and unnecessary intrusions.
The police are at my door, what should I do?
You have a few [good] options:
1) With the door remaining closed, ask “How can I help you ?”; or
2) Crack the door open and ask them “How can I help you?” through the door-lock opening; or
3) Don’t answer the door and they should eventually leave, unless they have a warrant.
The police may be there because they need assistance with a matter unrelated to you. Asking them “How can I help you?” will assist in learning the officer’s objective.
The police say they want to come into my house?
The short response is no. Not without a warrant. If the police say, “If you don’t let us in, we will go get a warrant”, then tell them go get a warrant. Until they show you a valid warrant, you shouldn’t allow them into your home.
The police are at my house with a warrant, do I have to let them in?
Yes. If you haven’t already, now would be a good time to call your Texas criminal defense attorneys.
Can officer’s lie to try and get information?
Yes. Legally, officers can and do lie to gain evidence. Many times officer’s do not have probable cause to arrest you. They ask questions, hoping you will gift wrap the probable cause they need. Knowing your rights will help prevent your words from getting twisted around and landing you in the back of a police car. Remember you have the right to remain silent. Request your Texas criminal defense lawyers. Be Firm.
What are some common things officer’s say to get information?
“Just cooperate with us and we will let you go.”
“If you tell us [what they want you to tell them], you will get out of here quicker.”
“We can ensure you get a good deal.”
“We have evidence that contradicts everything you just said.”
“That is not what [other person] said, tell us the truth.”
“What are you trying to hide?”
“You don’t need a lawyer, unless you are guilty.”
Can your roommate consent to a search of your home?
It depends on whether you are home or not.
If you are NOT home:
As a general rule, police can obtain consent to search from anyone with control over the property. If your roommate has a key or his name is on the lease he can give consent to a police search.
If you are home:
If your roommate consents to a search, you can object to the search and prevent the police from entering (unless they have a warrant). Simply state, “I do not give consent for you to search my home.” If the officer says he has a warrant, ask to see it. If the officer has a valid warrant, call your Texas criminal defense attorneys.
Can my landlord give consent?
Courts have held during a lawful tenancy a landlord cannot give officer’s consent to enter and search the tenant’s room.
What can I do to protect myself from a search of my room?
To maintain your expectation of privacy, keep your room locked, while maintaining control over your personal space. If your room is off-limits to roommates and friends, then it is off-limits to the police. If your room is the party room, then the police are going to treat it as such.
Texas Criminal Defense and Police at your Office:
The police are at my office, what should I do?
CALL YOUR TEXAS CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEYS.
With your Texas criminal defense lawyers on the phone ask them, “How you can help them?”
The police may be there because they need assistance with a matter unrelated to you. Asking them “How can I help you?” will assist in learning the officer’s objective.
The police say they want to search my office?
The short response is no. Not without a warrant. If the police say, “If you don’t let us in, we will go get a warrant”, then tell them go get a warrant. Until they show you a valid warrant, you shouldn’t allow them into your office or allow them to search your office.
The police are at my office with a warrant, do I have to let them in?
Yes. If you haven’t already, it would be a good time to call your Texas criminal defense attorneys.
10 Street Commandments
1) I will ask “Am I free to leave?”
2) If I am free to leave, I will leave.
3) If I am not free to leave, I will ask “Am I being detained?”
4) If I am detained, I will ask “Am I under arrest?”
5) If I am detained or under arrest I will remain silent.
6) I will refuse all searches (including field sobriety exercises, breath, blood tests, etc.).
7) I will request to see a warrant.
8) I will request an attorney.
9) I will be polite, but firm and not fall victim to police intimidation or deception.
10) I will record.
The Myth Surrounding Miranda
As a criminal lawyer, a common client remark is “…I wasn’t read my rights.” Contrary to popular belief the truth is the officer only has to read you your rights if: (1) you have been placed under arrest, AND (2) you are about to be questioned for a crime. For example, if you consent to a search, drugs are found, and you are arrested, police do not need to read you your rights. Any additional information you volunteer can and will be used against you.
The courts have made clear that police do not have to tell you about your right to refuse searches. Also, an officer does not need to get your consent to search in writing; oral consent is completely valid.
Fortunately you understand this. In the example above you refused to allow the search and asked the officer if you are under arrest. After being told you are being detained, you told the officer, “I refuse to answer any questions without my attorney present.”
Read more about Miranda.
The Supreme Court ruled that police do not need reasonable suspicion to use drug dogs to sniff a vehicle during a legitimate traffic stop.
Police can walk a drug dog around the vehicle during any legitimate traffic stop. If the dog signals that it smells drugs, police then have probable cause to conduct a search.
However, and this is a big however, the police are not allowed to detain you indefinitely while waiting for drug dogs to arrive. That Supreme Court held a detention of 7-8 minutes to wait for a drug dog to arrive violated the fourth amendment.
Basically, if police can’t bring a dog to the scene in the time it takes to run your tags and write a ticket, the use of the dog becomes constitutionally suspect. So if you’re pulled over and police threaten to call in the dogs, do not give in and consent to a search. By the time the drug dog arrives, it will have been an unreasonable detention in violation of the fourth amendment and your lawyers can suppress any unlawfully obtained evidence.
If you have read our blog on police encounters you have a better understanding of your rights when approached by a police officer.
It’s a 3-Question Process:
- Officer, am I free to leave?
- Officer am I being detained?
- Officer, am I under arrest?
If the officer said you are under arrest, this arrest is based on probable cause.
What is probable cause?
Probable cause is defined as facts and circumstances sufficient to believe a crime has been committed. Your lawyer, will learn whether the officer in fact had probable cause to arrest you. For example, regarding DWI criminal defense, Texas courts have held rapid acceleration, weaving, speeding, verbal defiance, leaning on door for support, mumbled speech, bloodshot eyes, smell of alcohol, and poor performance on field sobriety exercises provided sufficient probable cause for a DWI arrest. In contrast, Texas courts have held speeding, an illegal u-turn, and a variation of the field sobriety tests did not provide a sufficient basis for a DWI arrest.
What is the difference between a mere encounter, a detention, and an arrest?
A mere encounter requires no suspicion at all. It is an exchange of information. A detention requires reasonable suspicion and is a temporary investigation. An arrest requires probable cause. Think of a staircase. The first step, mere encounter, is the lowest form of police interaction. The second step, a detention, requires suspicion a crime may have been committed. The third step, probable cause, requires sufficient facts to believe a crime has been committed. Your criminal attorney will examine the encounter, detention, and arrest to determine if each step was conducted lawfully.
What if the officer didn’t have probable cause to arrest me?
If the officer arrests you without probable cause, than the arrest is unlawful and in violation of your constitutional rights. Any evidence obtained from that unlawful arrest is known as “fruit of the poisonous tree.” Your criminal defense lawyer will move to have any unlawfully obtained evidence suppressed. Suppressed evidence means no evidence. No evidence means the state likely can’t prove their case and must dismiss.