Nobody plans on being arrested, but having a solid understanding of your legal rights, the procedures in place, and what you can do to protect yourself in the event that you come into contact with law enforcement in connection to a criminal investigation is crucially important. All citizens have the right to exercise their Constitutional rights when stopped, questioned, and arrested by law enforcement, and by understanding these rights, you can put yourself in a better position to challenge the government’s case against you, should charges be filed.
At Lessem, Newstat & Tooson, LLP, our criminal defense attorneys have helped numerous clients throughout Ventura County and the surrounding areas of Southern California after they were arrested, as well as many clients who discovered they were under investigation. Having spoken with clients following their arrests, as well as others who call our firm, we know that there are a number of common issues and mistakes that can happen during an arrest that can lead to complications in a case and difficulties in defense.
To help you be better prepared for any contact with law enforcement as a suspect, or for any arrest, we have put together a few helpful tips:
- Watch what you say – Whenever you are stopped or questioned under suspicion of a crime, you should always exercise your right to remain silent. Your Fifth Amendment right is one of the most crucial rights you have when it comes to criminal law, and you do yourself a great favor by declining to speak with law enforcement about what happened. Unlike you may believe, you cannot talk yourself out of an arrest; an officer will arrest you if they have enough cause to do so. By declining to speak about incidents surrounding an arrest, even if you are innocent, you can ensure that your statements are not misconstrued or that they do not tie to you a crime or incriminate you in any way.
- Understand your rights – Aside from understanding your right to remain silent, you should also know other legal rights that can protect you in the event of an investigation or arrest. This includes your right to defend yourself against the charges made against you. Even if a stop ends in an arrest, you will have the opportunity at a later time to make your defense. Additionally, you have the right to legal representation. By telling an officer you do not wish to discuss anything and that you wish to speak to a lawyer, you can put a stop to questioning and get in contact with a legal professional who can help you take the next steps. This is why our team at Lessem, Newstat & Tooson, LLP is available 24/7 to help, as arrests can happen at any time.
- Be respectful – Although you want to exercise your rights, you want to do so as respectfully as possible. Simply decline to answer questions, state that you are exercising your Fifth Amendment right, and ask to speak to a lawyer. You can provide identifying information to officers, but you do not have to discuss anything else. Be polite and do not challenge officers or do anything that can result in additional charges or issues that can complicate a case.
- Be patient – As frustrating as an investigation or arrest may be, it is important to understand that it is in your best interests to exercise your right to remain silent when being questioned or arrested by law enforcement. Remember, by being patient, you not only reduce the risk of making potentially incriminating statements, but also provide yourself with the opportunity to fully explore your defense options. It becomes the government’s responsibility to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you are guilty of any charges levied against you, and everyone arrested and charged with the crime has the right to challenge the government’s version of what happened and how and why you were involved. If an officer has enough reason to arrest you, they will do so. Be patient, and use your right to fight the case to prove your side of the story.
Regardless of what transpires during an investigation or arrest, it is critical to contact an experienced defense lawyer as soon as you can. Lessem, Newstat & Tooson, LLP is available around the clock to help local residents after they have been arrested or made aware of a criminal investigation. We proudly serve clients throughout Ventura, Ventura County, Los Angeles, and beyond. Get started today by calling (800) 295-1054 for a FREE and confidential case review.