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Any type of encounter with law enforcement can be an extremely stressful situation, whether it is something as simple as a traffic ticket or something more serious. Not all interactions with the police result in an arrest, but they all have the potential to lead to an arrest, depending on how the interaction goes, whether you have committed a crime prior to interacting with the police or not.
After being pulled over by the police, many different thoughts can go through the mind of the person behind the wheel or in front of the police officer. However, it is important to understand what rights the person has and what needs to be done, if arrested, to ensure that these rights are protected.
Remain Calm and Cooperate
The first recommendation is to remain calm and cooperate to your comfort level with the arresting officer. Your safety should be your primary concern even when weighed against your legal rights.
You should remain as calm and collected as possible if someone is recording the event. You should try to be observant and remember your surroundings and in what order things are taking place. If possible, you should try to remember police officer names and badge numbers without sacrificing your safety or rights to do so.
If you are injured during an interaction with police, you should at least take photographs of your injuries with another person present. Do not do any other investigation on your own; contact an attorney immediately.
For a free legal consultation, call 215-515-3360
Understanding Miranda Rights
Across the country, including in Pennsylvania, police officers are required to read what are known as “Miranda Rights” when making an arrest. Many people have heard of these rights before but may not know exactly what they are and when they can be invoked.
Miranda Rights protect the person being arrested by giving him or her the following rights:
- The right to remain silent and refuse to answer any questions or even to stop answering questions at any point;
- The right to consult an attorney; and
- The right to have an attorney appointed to represent the arrested individual, if he or she cannot afford an attorney.
An officer does not have to read you these rights simply because he is arresting you. The right to not have to answer any questions, remain silent, is available to someone being questioned (formally or informally) while in police custody. It is always recommended to remain silent. If you have information helpful to the police, that you for whatever reason want to disclose, then you can tell them later with your attorney present.
There is no good reason to give information without consulting an attorney. Just because you are read your rights, it does not mean that a statement made after that will be kept out of your trial. You must actually remain silent. Some people are so nervous during an arrest that they want to say something to make the police happy, but regret it later. If you say that you want to remain silent, but then start speaking to the police later on, you have waived or given up your right to be silent.
It is best to say that you are going to remain silent and then ask for an attorney right away. Do not speak to anyone until you can speak with an attorney. The only information that you want to consider giving at this point is information like address and contact information so that the court can consider bail as quickly as possible.
Statements that are made during the course of an arrest can easily be used against that person and could come up later in trial. Many police officers will try to get the person to talk while in their custody to gather evidence. They often bank on the fact that someone may not know well enough to remain quiet and will try to get him or her to say anything that could implicate that person in the crime.
Statements made on the phone at the prison and from the police station can be recorded and used against you. Do not make statements to loved ones about the case on the phone.
By staying quiet, that person is protecting himself or herself from incrimination, and silence is never used as an admission of guilt.
Rights Related to Police Searches
Another area where people are aware they have rights but are not sure what those rights are has to do with police searches. If someone has been arrested, the police have limited right to search that person and his or her belongings, including his or her pockets, purse and car, if he or she was arrested in the car.
However, this search does not then expand to the arrested person’s home or workplace without a court-issued warrant. One exception can be something in plain view of the officer while in the person’s home or workplace, if the arrest occurs there.
Do not consent to any searches of your property. If the police have probable cause, they can go get a warrant.
Violation of Rights
If someone is arrested and believes that his or her rights have been violated, it’s best is to stay calm and not physically fight back during the arrest.
If the officers do not properly follow protocol and a violation of the person’s Miranda Rights occurs, this violation can be used later in a case and can even lead to a dismissal of charges against him or her.
It is important to contact a criminal defense attorney if the defendant believes any rights were violated during the arrest. The attorney can talk through the situation and facts of the arrest and can advise the defendant on the best way to proceed in court.
The Law Offices of M.J. Snyder
At the Law Offices of M.J. Snyder, we know Pennsylvania criminal law, and can help you right from the moment you are under investigation or facing criminal charges. Criminal accusations are extremely intimidating, and police might use a number of tactics to get you to confess. Our attorneys at the Law Offices of M.J. Snyder will fight for you every step of the way. We are here to protect you, and try to obtain the best result possible. Contact us today at 215-515-3360!