If you get stopped by the police, you might find yourself feeling and acting nervous. When you realize that your nervousness could make the police suspect that you are guilty of something, that realization can make you more nervous, if not downright panicked. You do not want to get accused of refusing to cooperate with the police and end up as a news headline.
On the other hand, you do not want to say something that might incriminate you. A Washington criminal defense attorney can help you protect your legal rights and answer questions like, am I being detained? Here are six questions you should ask during interactions with the police.
1. Am I Being Arrested?
If the police say that, yes, they are arresting you, you will want to exercise your right to remain silent. Call a criminal defense lawyer immediately and remain silent until you have a lawyer present.
The police are not supposed to arrest anyone without having probable cause. If they only suspect that you might have committed a crime but they do not have probable cause that would justify making an arrest, you might inadvertently say something that they could interpret as grounds for probable cause. Let your lawyer do the talking for you.
2. Am I Being Detained?
The police are allowed to detain a person briefly if they have a reasonable suspicion. Of course, the issue is often, how long is briefly? When they finish asking their questions, you should be free to go, unless they decide to arrest you. You should confirm whether you are free to go before you attempt to do so.
3. How Long Will I Be Detained?
Remember, the period of being detained must be brief. The police might make you stay in a secured area while they perform an investigation. You will want to call your lawyer before answering questions while being detained.
4. Why Am I Being Detained or Arrested?
The police must have a reason to arrest or detain someone. Pulling someone off of the streets and not letting them go about their business without have a good reason to do so can be harassment.
5. Do You Have a Warrant?
Although the police do not always need to have a warrant to perform a search or arrest someone, you should always ask, rather than simply opening the door and letting them enter. If you voluntarily let them in, you have consented to a search. Instead, you will want to ask them politely if they have a warrant. If they do not have a warrant, you can refuse to let them search. Because there are exceptions to the requirement of a warrant, you should call your lawyer to step in at this point.
6. Am I Free to Leave?
If the police tell you that you are free to go, by all means, go somewhere else right away. Hanging around only gives them time to think of a reason to detain or arrest you. When you have been stopped by the police, never try to leave before they tell you that you are free to go, or you might get treated as fleeing the scene.
A Washington criminal defense attorney will fight tirelessly to protect your legal rights. For help with your case get in touch with our office today, we are here to help you.
DISCLAIMER: This post is intended to share my perspective, insights, and some general information on various aspects of criminal cases. It is not legal advice and is not intended to substitute for legal advice. You should consult an attorney to obtain legal advice for your individual situation and case.