If you were arrested and you believe your rights may have been violated, do not hesitate to seek legal advice from our Columbus criminal defense attorneys at Luftman, Heck & Associates. We have years of experience reviewing police conduct during stops and arrests. We can help you understand whether your rights were violated and if they were, how this may affect your case in Columbus, OH. Call us today at (614) 500-3836.
Knowing when you must comply with police requests and questions versus when you can say no are crucial to protecting your rights and avoiding potentially dangerous situations. Seeing the red and blue lights behind your vehicle or watching a police officer approach you on the sidewalk can be frightening. In some situations, you may know why you are being stopped. You may have no idea why the police are taking an interest in you. Whatever the case, you need to understand your arrest rights and know what to do if you’re stopped by Columbus police.
Your Rights and Duties When Stopped by the Police
When you are stopped by the police, understanding your basic rights and responsibilities can promote a civil conversation and reduce the risk of escalation. When you do not understand your individual liberties versus the officer’s power, you run the risk of refusing the wrong request and increasing the likelihood of your arrest.
- You must identify yourself. Officers can stop you when they have reasonable suspicion that you have been or are currently involved in a crime. When they stop you, they have a brief amount of time to ascertain whether there is probable cause to arrest you. When the police ask for your name and identification, you must provide it to them. You are required by law to give your name and show your driver’s license or another ID.
- You must exit your vehicle if asked. If you are in a vehicle and the police ask you to get out, you must do so. This can be an incredibly scary moment and you probably believe at this point that you are in trouble. However, this does not mean you are under arrest. Move slowly and describe your actions to the police as you go to unbuckle your seatbelt, open the door, and step out.
- You do not have to consent to a search. In general, the police need a search warrant to go through your home, office, vehicle, or other private spaces. However, there are a number of exceptions when it comes to cars. Officers can search your vehicle if there is probable cause that you committed a crime and there may be evidence related to that offense inside, if it is related to a lawful arrest, if it is for officer safety, or if you consent. If the police ask if they can look inside your vehicle, or if they try to order you to let them inside, you do not have to give permission. If the police are looking for your consent, they do not have probable cause to conduct the search on their own.
- You may ask if you are free to go. During these stops, the police can only keep you for a brief time. Forcing you to stay without an arrest can become an unreasonable detention, which is unconstitutional. If the stop is being drawn out and the police are not openly letting you go or arresting you, politely ask if you are free to go. It can be difficult to remain patient and calm, however, do not try to walk or drive away without a clear indication from the officer that you can do so. Despite not being under arrest, your attempting to leave without the officer’s agreement may escalate the situation.
Your Miranda Rights
When the police place you under arrest, they must tell you your Miranda Rights. These are certain constitutional rights the courts determined the police must tell you when you are arrested to ensure that you could not be taken advantage of.
These rights are:
- The right to remain silent. Whether you are in a vehicle or in public, you do not have to answer the police officers questions. You always have the right to remain silent. In fact, this can be the best way to protect yourself and decrease the risk of the police using what you say against you. In reality, simply remaining silent is not always an option or your best tactic. It may be best to politely reply “No, officer” or state “I will not answer questions without an attorney.” If you have been arrested and are being questioned at a police station, specifically tell the officers “I am invoking my right to remain silent” and then do not answer any more questions.
- Anything you say can and will be used against you in court. Every word that you say to the police or other people around during an arrest may be used as a basis to charge you with a crime or admitted to the court as evidence during your trial. Nothing is off limits. You might believe that you can answer the officer’s questions politely and it will help you. However, the police may misconstrue your words and turn them against you. It is best to say as little as possible before you have an attorney.
- You have the right to an attorney. You always have the right to an attorney. This includes the right to speak with a Columbus criminal defense lawyer before talking to the police and to have a lawyer present during all police questioning. After you are arrested and booked into jail, you will be given the opportunity to contact someone. You should call a family member or friend who will contact a criminal defense lawyer on your behalf. While there is the running myth that you get one phone call, the police should give you a reasonable opportunity to reach someone to let them know you have been arrested. This may take more than one call.
- If you cannot afford an attorney, the court will provide one for you. You are entitled to legal representation during your case. If you and your family cannot afford an attorney, you may ask the court to provide you with one. Unfortunately, this means you may not have a lawyer during your arrest, booking, or initial police questioning. You should invoke your right to remain silent until a public defender is assigned to your case.
Do You Need a Criminal Defense Lawyer near Columbus?
If you believe your constitutional rights were violated when you were stopped by the police and arrested, contact the experienced Columbus criminal defense lawyers of Luftman, Heck & Associates right away. Our priority is always to protect your rights. If we determine they were violated during an arrest, we will explain how this may impact your case. You may have a defense that your arrest or some of the evidence against you is unlawful.