Unfortunately, you rarely have notice prior to being taken into custody by the police. In fact, it could happen to anyone at any time, even if you have done absolutely nothing wrong. With that in mind, it is wise to know what to do if you find yourself in police custody. A Murfreesboro criminal lawyer at Bennett & Michael explains what to do if the police take you into custody.
- Make sure you are actually in custody. This may seem like a strange first step; however, it is an important legal question. You have certain rights that activate when you are “in custody.” You do not need to be in handcuffs to be in custody. Unfortunately, a simple test to determine if you are in police custody does not exist. If it becomes an issue before the court, the court will consider a variety of factors, such as whether you have been informed that you are free to leave or told you could not leave, whether you have been restrained, and whether the atmosphere in general was dominated by law enforcement. If you are not in custody, you can leave at any time. If you choose to remain and answer questions you are doing so by consent.
- Never consent to questioning. That brings us to the next important tip – never consent to answering questions. Like many people, you may be intimidated by the police or you may think that cooperating is the best way to avoid an arrest. In reality, you are more likely to talk yourself into a conviction. One of your most valuable Constitutional rights is the right to remain silent. It only works to protect you, however, if you assert that right. Expect the police to try several angles to get you to answer questions. They are even allowed to use deception when questioning you. To preserve all possible defenses in the event you are ultimately charged, be respectful but firm that you do not wish to answer questions without an attorney present.
- Request an attorney. At this point, you need to also make it clear that you want an attorney present. Like your right to remain silent, the right to an attorney is one of your Constitutional rights. As soon as you find yourself in a situation where the police want to ask you questions you should ask for an attorney. If you are in custody, the police are legally required to stop asking you questions when you ask for an attorney. Sometimes, however, they blur the line and continue to ask questions. That means you may need to repeat your request for an attorney several times. Even if you already answered some questions, your right to an attorney can still be asserted and the police are required to discontinue questioning you.
- Contact a criminal lawyer. Regardless of the outcome of your interaction with the police, you should consult with an experienced criminal lawyer as soon as possible. If you are arrested, the need for a criminal lawyer will be obvious; however, the assistance of an attorney may be just a vital if the police let you go. The police rarely question someone without good cause. Just because you were not arrested on the spot does not mean you are no longer a suspect. As such, the protection of an experienced criminal defense attorney is crucial.
- Do not discuss the details of your interaction with anyone other than your lawyer. It may be tempting to discuss what happened with family members or friends to get their perspective on the interaction. Resist that temptation. Conversations with your attorney are privileged. Conversations with almost anyone else are not. That means that your attorney cannot repeat what you tell him/her and it cannot be used against you; however, what you say to almost anyone else can be used against you. The prosecuting attorney could use the subpoena powers of the court to force a friend or family member to testify against you at your trial or face perjury charges.
Contact a Murfreesboro Criminal Lawyer
If you have additional questions about a criminal case in Tennessee, it is important that you consult with an experienced Murfreesboro criminal lawyer to ensure that your rights are protected throughout the process. Contact the team at Bennett, Michael & Hornsby as soon as possible by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your free appointment.