I often tell people that hopefully, you will never need our criminal defense firm’s services but a criminal charge can happen at any time or place. I write this weekly blog based on questions from my clients and their families. A critical time that can dramatically change the outcome of your criminal case is what you do or how you react during that initial police contact. There are lot of people who want to know what to do if police come to their house or place of business with an arrest warrant. Her are 5 things that you should do in police show up to arrest you or friend:
- Don’t be a jerk
- Don’t run
- Don’t tell them your side of the story
- Don’t give consent to search anything
- Don’t forget to give your friends and family your lawyer’s name and number
1. Don’t be a jerk
You’re going to get arrested and nothing is going to change it. This isn’t the time to tell police that you have a problem with them. This isn’t the time to tell police that they are profiling you, or that they need to think about what they’re doing because you’re going to file a lawsuit against them, the State (New Jersey) or the Commonwealth (Pennsylvania). This isn’t the time to make personal attacks on the officers or to give them you’re political views about the presidential race. Shut your mouth and go quietly!
I can’t tell you how many clients make their criminal defense lawyer’s job harder by giving the police a hard time. I’ve been a criminal defense lawyer for almost a decade and my job puts me on the opposite side of police everyday. Despite my position, I consider many my friends and I have the highest respect for what they do! This may sound strange but I question any criminal defense lawyer who “hate police” or make derogatory comments about them on social media.
This doesn’t mean that I don’t want to win in court or do my best to ensure that my clients get great results. I want to win but … I’m not a jerk! Giving the arresting officer trouble is never going to help your case and it’s only going to make it worse which ultimately makes my job harder. So if you want to really help your criminal defense lawyer….don’t be a jerk to police. Not being rude, however, doesn’t mean volunteering information or helping them collect evidence in your case. Don’t answer any questions and never consent to a search
2. Don’t run!
Guilty people don’t run! I actually disagree with this statement because there are various reasons why people run from police. The biggest reason, in my experience, is poor judgment and an internal nervous reaction (fight or flight). Getting arrested is scary and you’re going to experience a burst of emotional responses. You need, however, to try to keep it together and resist the urge to run away. First, running is going to make you look guilty. If your criminal case ever goes to trial, the assistant district attorney will specifically ask the judge or jury to consider you’re running as “consciousness of guilty.” This is an incredibly powerful argument for the prosecution. It’s even worse if you actually get away from police and your later get picked up on an arrest warrant at a traffic stop or worse at the airport or bus stop.
Even if you turn yourself in to police, it doesn’t change the fact that you ran. Running also increases the chance that a judge will set a high bail. Bail is based on your risk of flight, the danger you present to the public and your contacts to the community. Even if you have 2 out of 3 going for you, running before you even get to court makes it look like you’re going to do it again if given the opportunity. Remember that Pennsylvania maintains a cash bail system while New Jersey has a cashless bail system based on risk of flight and propensity toward violence.
3. Don’t tell them your side of the story
Shut up! That may sound like tough language but it’s the truth. This isn’t the time to tell police what really happened; don’t say anything! A verbal statement is just as bad as a written statement. In some cases, a verbal statement is even worse because words can be taken out of context or misunderstood. Making a statement is never going to help your case. Even if police tell you that making a statement will “make things go easier” don’t believe it. Again, respect police but don’t believe them when they try to tell you how things will go in your case. They aren’t responsible for prosecuting your case. They don’t even ultimately decide what charges you will face so don’t believe them when they say things will go easier if you just talk to them. You’re just giving the prosecution more evidence to use against you. I can’t tell you how many cases I’ve had which would have worked out in our favor had my client just shut his mouth
4. Don’t give consent to the search of anything
If police are asking if they can search your car, vehicle, home or office, they probably need a search warrant. Remember that all warrantless searches are presumed to be unreasonable in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and every other state. The 4th Amendment to the United States Constitution specifically protects your right against illegal search and seizure. You’re consent, however, waives that right. Keep in mind that warrantless vehicle searches are illegal in Pennsylvania without exigent circumstances. Warrantless searches are permissible in New Jersey
5. Don’t forget to give friends and family your lawyer’s name and number
If you’re being arrested, you need to start thinking about bail! Remember that bail hearings are 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in Philadelphia. Your criminal defense lawyer should have a 24 hour phone number. Our firm doesn’t believe in an after hours voicemail because most calls to our office during these times are from people’s whose friend or loved one has been arrested. Bail is extremely important because it’s always easier to fight your illegal narcotic, drug, gun or drunk driving (DUI/DWI) case from the street than custody.
For more information on criminal defense strategies and tactics, I encourage you to visit my download section of the website
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