Effective police work is necessary for an orderly and safe society. But when you are the target of an investigation it’s important to understand your personal rights and responsibilities.
The law does not require you to incriminate yourself, nor does it require you to help the police perform their job more effectively. If questioned by the police there are helpful things to remember when managing a face-to-face contact. First, avoid making statements regarding the incident for which you are being investigated. Those statements are evidence against you. Furthermore, the law does not require you consent to searches when asked to consent by the police. When you consent you’ve simply eliminated the officer’s need for probable cause. Probable cause is something that can protect you from an unjust prosecution. So, understand it and use it to your advantage by politely requiring the police obtain a search warrant. That includes searches of your person, car, home, or personal effects. An experienced Bryan-College Station DWI lawyer can help you understand if your rights have been violated.
Our emotions get us into trouble. Consequently, learn to control your words when confronted by the police. When an officer stops you and asks for your identifying information . . . give them accurate data. It’s a crime not to. And by all means avoid arguments with them. Some officers are happy to arrest you for causing a public disturbance. Also remember anything you say to a police officer, even during a simple encounter on the street, can be used against you in court. What you say is most likely being recorded or videotaped. Don’t resist the officer’s authority during face-to-face encounters either. Complaining, telling the police they’re wrong, or bad mouthing a cop can get you arrested, too.
I’ll comment in later posts about what to do when the police stop you driving your car or come to your home asking questions. Remember, good police work is important but knowing your rights and responsibilities are just as essential to a free society. An experienced Bryan-College Station attorney can help you understand these important issues.
Stephen Gustitis is a criminal defense lawyer in Bryan-College Station. He is Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. He is also a husband, father, and retired amateur bicycle racer.