Know Your Rights

How you respond to a police encounter at the time of your arrest can help or hurt you.

Advice From a Qualified Criminal Defense Attorney

How you respond to a police encounter at the time of your arrest can help or hurt you.  Knowing your constitutional rights and how you should respond at the time of your arrest is vitally important to your case.  Anytime you are arrested, you should follow these simple rules


  • KEEP QUIET!!!  You have an absolute right to remain silent and you should do so at the time of your arrest.  Now, this does not mean that you should not provide your name to the police when you encounter them.  But, other than providing your name, do not answer any other questions that the police ask you.  Ask for your lawyer and be very clear about that. You should say something like, "I want to talk to my lawyer before I answer any questions."
  • DO NOT TALK ABOUT THE INCIDENT OVER THE JAILHOUSE PHONES!!! If you are taken to jail, after you are booked you will eventually be given an opportunity to call a lawyer or loved ones to bail you out.  All calls made from the jail are recorded and being monitored—even those calls in the booking area.  Unfortunately, when calls are made from the jail, the person being called will ask a million questions about your arrest or “what happened?” Do not respond to those questions.  The police and prosecutor WILL use what you say on those calls against you. No matter how good you think you are at talking in "code," trust me, it is best that you say nothing.

  • DO NOT BE AFRAID TO SAY NO—AND UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCE SHOULD YOU AGREE TO ANY SEARCH!!!  During police encounters, officers will often ask for your permission to search your car, house, or other personal belongings, including your person.  For example, an officer might ask—“do you mind if I search your car?”  If fact, an officer may even attempt to make you feel guilty by suggesting—“well, if you do not have anything to hide, you should not have a problem with me searching your car.”  Always, and I mean always, say NO!!!  Now, this may not prevent an officer from conducting a search, but by saying “NO,” you protect your constitutional rights to unreasonable searches and seizures.  
  • NEVER TRY TO NEGOTIATE WITHOUT YOUR LAWYER!!!  Let your attorney negotiate with the police and prosecutors, especially if they offer you some kind of deal to cooperate.
  • Do not argue with the police. Be respectful and courteous and wait patiently for your lawyer to be provided to you.

If you can't remember all these rules, just remember (1) you an absolute right to remain silent; and (2) don’t ever talk to the police without a lawyer.