The sight of blue lights behind you can be a nerve-racking situation. In some situations you may very well not be aware of the reason you’ve been pulled over. A criminal defense lawyer, like the ones at Garrett, Walker, Aycoth & Olson, can see this situation on a frequent basis and figures it’s good to discuss your next steps. We’re seeing an increase in stops, that may or very well may not be for valid reasons. The vehicle is pulled for something fairly minor, a window tint violation, speeding, or a tail light being out. This stop instantly turns to a situation where the officer wants to search the vehicle. And this is where we turn to the Fourth Amendment.
The Fourth Amendment is quite possibly the most important amendment to a criminal lawyer because it protects you and me from being the subject of an unlawful search or seizure. So you’ve been pulled over and want to take the right steps, well read on for what we advise.
Don’t Say a Word – Saying Nothing Helps Us Later
The Fourth Amendment allows for a person to remain quiet if they are questioned by the police. Understand, that generally, when the police desire to search you, they aren’t intending to do so because they believe there’s nothing illegal going on. Clearly on their part, they believe you have something of a criminal nature going on, and they want to find out what it is. We see a lot of searches due to the odor of marijuana. Recent laws and articles have provided that the odor of marijuana is not distinguishable from hemp, and in some instances, this could negate the officers probable cause to search the vehicle.
Also, if you’re in custody and not comfortable with the situation, (Who wouldn’t be? ) under the Fifth Amendment, you can ask for a criminal attorney. If they’re attempting to question you, all questioning must cease until you are able to speak with your criminal defense lawyer. It’s important to note, that you can say I think I’d like to speak with an attorney, the request must be direct, “I want to speak to my lawyer.” This will put an end to any further questioning by the police.
Please note, and this is important, if you start talking with the police on your own after you’ve invoked your right to counsel, this may open the door to further questioning, and the scary part is your answers can and will be used against you. It’s important to speak with an experienced criminal lawyer before speaking with the police.
Take a Deep Breath – Do Your Very Best to Remain Calm, Cool and Collected
Our criminal defense lawyers see the suspect behaving nervously, breathing heavily, looking stressed, angry, frustrated and all of the above. The insinuation is that there is something criminal going on and that’s the reason you’re any number of those things. The reality is being stopped by the police can be scary, especially when you don’t know the reason for the stop or their rationale for wanting to search.
But as you see them approach, take a deep breath. The police need probable cause to search your vehicle or search you and sometimes the only way they can get probable cause is to ask you questions. We have countless clients who have ended up with criminal charges all because they answered questions which gave a police officer probable cause to search. It’s hard as a criminal defense attorney to break the news that if they had just remained quiet, they never would have been able to search. And if they hadn’t searched, they wouldn’t have found what they found, whether it be drugs, a firearm when they’re not supposed to have one, or anything else deemed to be illegal. Remain calm and please do not say anything.
The Hard Part – Comply with Law Enforcement
Understand, first and foremost you’re not typically in a position of power. How many times do you think someone who yelled, “citizen’s arrest” at a law enforcement officer and it ended up stopping the police in their tracks. We wouldn’t need fingers to count those situations because it hasn’t happened. If the police have probable cause, or they have a valid search warrant based on probable cause, then comply with their requests. Obstruction of justice and resisting, delaying and / or obstructing a police officer can be a criminal offense in and of itself.
Find a Criminal Lawyer as soon as you’re able to
The above is vital to protecting your rights when you’re stopped by the police or their attempting to search you, your car or your house. Reach out to a lawyer to make sure you’re taking the right steps and making the best decision for you when speaking with the police. Criminal charges are nothing to take lightly. Whether it’s a misdemeanor or a felony criminal charge, they can have long-standing ramifications on your future. Please contact a skilled criminal defense lawyer today to help you with your criminal case.