Who knows where certain information comes from? You hear through the grapevine over the years that one thing or another can keep you from getting arrested if you’ve committed a crime. Unfortunately, that bad game of “whisper down the lane” can very well have the opposite result because what you’ve heard is frequently wrong.
Sometimes you end up in situations you never intended, or even saw coming. We’re setting the record straight just in case you ever find yourself in trouble. If trouble has already found you, maybe knowing where you went wrong can be used to aid in your criminal defense. Arming yourself with the right knowledge when it comes to dealing with law enforcement is your best chance at beating the charges and we’re here to help.
MYTH: If you haven’t been read your Miranda rights, the police can’t hold anything you say against you.
TRUTH: This is untrue and is one of the biggest ways clients trip themselves up. Police may not make it obvious that you are being looked at as a suspect and may play it off as if they’re just seeking help from you by asking you questions related to a crime. If you choose to answer them, you are voluntarily giving them information that may be used to build a case against you.
You are under no obligation to speak with the police before or after an arrest. So how do you know if you’re under arrest short of being told that you are? Listen for the words “custody” and “interrogation.” If you do not feel like you are free to leave, or if you ask if you can leave and are told no, assume you’re under arrest. If you haven’t been read your Miranda warnings at that point, you need to relay that fact along with everything you’ve told the police to your criminal defense attorney. It may mean the difference between being tried and the charges being dropped.
MYTH: The police cannot lie to you.
TRUTH: Again, this is completely false. The number one job of law enforcement officers is to solve crimes by catching the individual(s) who commit them. The law says that if that means lying to get information that can lead them to the truth, so be it. Any verbal information obtained through deception can be used to convict you. This includes making promises to you to get you to confess. This is a bit hypocritical because while the police are fully within their right to lie to you, you don’t get to play by the same set of rules.
If you decide to go ahead and provide information to the police and you lie about anything you state to them, you can face criminal charges for that. Whether or not you’ve been read your rights, it is always best to be cautious and refrain from talking with the police about a crime without an attorney present.
MYTH: If the victim isn’t pressing charges, you’re free to go.
TRUTH: When it comes to criminal charges, the victim becomes a witness and for all intents and purposes, the state becomes the plaintiff. That means it is up to the prosecutor to decide if you’ll be tried for a crime, not the victim. In fact, prosecutors often override the wishes of the victims of sex crimes or felony murder because they believe the benefit to society of taking violent criminals off the streets outweighs the risk to the victim.
MYTH: Police can’t legally search you or your property without a search warrant.
TRUTH: Under certain circumstances, this is true. However, if an officer can establish probable cause, it can override the need for a search warrant when it comes to your person or your vehicle. Where things get tricky is telling where the probable cause stops.
If you are seen stumbling toward your car after leaving a bar, police can stop you in the parking lot to question and search you, but they don’t have probable cause to search your car for drugs. On the other hand, if you were stopped for a traffic violation and the officer can see drug paraphernalia sitting on the passenger seat, that lends permission to search your vehicle without a warrant.
To enter your home, three things will get law enforcement through the door without a search warrant:
- An invitation. Anyone living at the residence, whether it’s an unknowing spouse or a roommate, can give police permission to come inside.
- Exigent circumstances. Two reasons that could provide exigent circumstances are that police see or hear something that gives them reason to believe someone is in immediate danger, or they believe waiting for the warrant would allow the suspects time to destroy the evidence they’re trying to obtain.
- The plain view doctrine. Any evidence police can see sitting out in plain sight from any lawful vantage point is fair game to enter a location without a warrant, seize the evidence and make an arrest.
There are many pitfalls that can make things worse for you once you’ve been arrested. To help minimize the damage you may cause for yourself, don’t have a conversation with the police other than for a lawyer. Call the experienced criminal defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Adrian H. Altshuler & Associates at 615-977-9370 to schedule your free case evaluation today, or we invite you to reach out to us through our contact form to schedule your appointment. We have offices in Franklin, Columbia, and Brentwood for the convenience of our clients across Tennessee.