Harrisonburg DUI Lawyer
Learning what you should do before you are stopped by the police may be more important than learning what you should do after you have been arrested. Harrisonburg DUI Lawyer Bob Keefer wants you to know your rights and understand your responsibilities when you get stopped by the police. This site provides general information, but what you should do in your situation may vary depending on the facts and circumstances.
What you have to provide
If you are stopped you are required by law to provide the officer with your vehicle registration and insurance card. You are not required to answer questions about where you are going to, coming from, or your activities leading up to the time you were stopped. Police are trained to ask numerous questions that seek to gather the same information in different ways to test whether you are being truthful. Unfortunately, this sometimes confuses people and you may unintentionally give the police grounds to continue to detain and question you even if you are telling the truth.
Know your rights
If the police search your vehicle they must have your consent, probable cause, or a search warrant. Officers are trained on how to get your consent in ways you may not understand. There is tremendous pressure on people who are stopped by the police to be cooperative. Police understand this and are trained to ask questions in such a way to increase the pressure on you to do the things they want you to do. For instance, police will often ask, “If you don’t have anything to hide, can I search your vehicle?” In asking the question in this manner people often feel a pressure to prove themselves innocent. Unfortunately, by giving permission to search you have just given up some of your strongest defenses to a criminal charge.
Silence is Free
Many people who get arrested for a DUI or other criminal charge are arrested in part because of what they say to the police. Whatever you say can be used against you in court, and, in some cases your silence can be used against you as well. Some courts are now allowing the prosecution to use the fact that you remained silent in face of accusations made against you as evidence that you were guilty of the accusations. Of course, there are a lot of good reasons to remain silent besides being guilty of a crime.
The best thing you can do if being confronted by the police is to tell them you will not talk to them without an attorney present, then remain silent. If you answer some of their questions, but not others, it is more likely than not that your silence may be used as evidence you knew you were guilty of the things you were being asked about. The theory is that your willingness to cooperate on non-incriminating information contrasted to your unwillingness to cooperate on incriminating information can give a fact-finder (either a judge or jury) insights into whether you knew you were guilty of violating the law.
By invoking your right to remain silent immediately, and immediately asking to have an attorney present before you answer any questions you lessen the ability of the prosecution to use your silence as evidence of guilt.
If you have been stopped or arrested for DUI or any crime, contact Harrisonburg DUI lawyer Bob Keefer right now for a free, no obligation case evaluation.