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How to Protect Your Constitutional Rights in an Encounter With Police

Most people know that they have constitutional rights which protect them from the actions of police officers, detectives, and other government actors. And they may even know what those rights are while at the same time being unsure of how to assert them in an encounter with police. Law enforcement is primarily concerned with collecting evidence and investigating crimes, not in helping you assert and defend your constitutional rights, so their motivation will most likely be to get you to waive your rights, which can mean terrible consequences for you. Thus, it is important for you to take the steps necessary to defend your constitutional rights and contact an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible at the first sign of a police investigation.

Do Not Consent to Searches of Houses, Cars, Bags, Etc.

Under the Fourth Amendment, the police may not conduct a search of any location in which you have a reasonable expectation of privacy without a search warrant, unless an exception applies. One of these exceptions is where a person provides consent to the search, and thus police officers will usually attempt to get you to provide consent. Doing so means you waive your Fourth Amendment rights, and thus you should not provide consent to a search except pursuant to the guidance of your own defense attorney.

If police officers persist in attempting to get you to provide consent to searching your home, car, bag, or other location, simply say, “I do not provide consent to any search.” If they persist, do not interfere with what they are doing and ask to have an attorney present.

Do Not Provide Information to Police Without an Attorney Present

If the police are questioning you, you do not have to provide them with any information, pursuant to your Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. If the police lawfully detain you in your car or elsewhere in public, you can be asked for identification, but the police must provide a lawful explanation for detaining you which amounts to reasonable suspicion that you committed a crime. Thus, you can ask the officer to give you a reason why he detained you.

If the officer asks you to provide him with further information beyond your identification, you can simply state that, “I do not want to speak with you without an attorney present” as well as “I want to speak to a lawyer.” You do not have to wait for the officer to “read you your rights” to make this statement. Furthermore, you do not have to raise your voice or antagonize the officer to assert your rights.

When Officers Persist

The officer may persist and try to get you to change your mind by suggesting he will make your life easier if you just talk (note: officers tell people this regardless of whether it is all at true, and you have a much better chance of making your life easier by talking to your own attorney), but you can persist in declaring that you do not wish to speak to him without a lawyer and the officer should cease all questioning at that point.

If the officer does not release you at that point, it is possible that you could be placed under arrest if there is enough evidence to meet the “probable cause” standard for arrest. Regardless, the next person you should speak with should be an experienced criminal defense attorney who can engage with you on a confidential discussion of the facts at issue, advise you of your rights, and speak to police on your behalf.

Aggressive Criminal Defense Attorney in Oklahoma

Oklahoma City criminal defense attorney Patrick Quillian worked as an Oklahoma district attorney, so he has the experience of working on the other side and understands how to best fight your case and work towards a dismissal of charges, not guilty verdict, or favorable agreement with reduction of penalties and charges in your Oklahoma criminal investigation or prosecution. Contact the office of J. Patrick Quillian, Attorney at Law, today at 405.294.4448 to schedule a free consultation to see what his criminal defense team can do for you.