As a former prosecutor - and as an experienced Minnesota Criminal Defense Attorney - I get lots and lots of questions. I have no problem answering them - for FREE. If you or someone you love has been caught up in a legal mess --- Call me today to set up a FREE CONSULTATION. Before we get started - understanding that every case is different - feel free to look here for some general information.
Here are some of the most common questions I get:
The officer never read me my Miranda rights, what are they?
Many people have learned that they have the right to remain silent and right to Lawyers by watching television and the movies. Yes, it is true, we do have these rights. However, these rights only attach when we are arrested or placed in custody and given the chance to incriminate ourselves. Strangely enough, a blood, breath, or urine test is not considered self-incrimination. That is why people do not have the right to a Minnesota Criminal Defense Lawyer before a State test is given. A routine traffic stop does not rise to the level of custody such that people must be told of their rights. However, if the police officer leads you to believe that the detention is going to be more than a brief encounter, Miranda warnings and your right to have a lawyer present before and during any aditional questioning may be required.
Do I have to let the police search me?
NO! The Police may only search a person, place, or thing if they have probable cause (defined as enough evidence to convince a reasonable person that criminal activity is or has ocurred) to believe that something illegal exists. However, there are numerous exceptions to this rule. For instance, a police officer can search you and anything within your grasp once you are lawfully arrested. An officer may frisk a person to see if they have weapons on them. An officer may search anything if he sees something in plain view and he has a legal right to be there. An officer may search a car if he smells burnt marijuana. THE EXCEPTIONS ARE GREATER THAN THE RULE. Initially, we had many rights to be secure from illegal searches. However, through the years, courts and whittled away at our rights so that law enforcement would have an easier time finding drugs and weapons.
Do I have to speak with police?
No! Many people feel that they can talk their way out of trouble. We believe that this is not going to happen. Anything you say to an officer is considered an admission and will be used against you at a trial. All spontaneous utterances will be used against you.
IF YOU ARE A SUSPECT IN A CRIME, LAW ENFORCEMENT IS NOT TRYING TO HELP YOU.
The police are trying to gather as much evidence as they can to help them make a case. You have no legal obligation to speak with them. Please let an attorney speak to them on your behalf. Even if you are not guilty of anything, the most subtle questions will trip you up and make it seem like you did something wrong. You are not obligated to be a witness against yourself.
What is the Fifth?
In recent times, many people have pleaded the Fifth. This is a person invoking their legal right not to incriminate themselves.
What should I do if I have not been arrested but think a charge is soon to occur?
I get a lot of calls from people who tell me that there is not a pending charge, but they did something wrong or people believe that they did something wrong and a charge may be forthcoming. First, it makes sense to hire a lawyer. He or she can analyze the facts and make a decision if a law has been broken. An attorney can also deal with law enforcement on your behalf in order to try and avoid charges from being filed.
If a lawyer is not affordable or available, do not tell the police your story. This will generally make things worse. Unless you are so sure that you are squeaky clean and have nothing to hide, my advice is do not speak to police without asking for an appointed lawyer.
Do I have to allow the police to search my house or car?
No! The police have every legal right to ask for your permission to search your car or home. However, you have every legal right to refuse. Unless there is probable cause to search, the police have no business looking through your personal items. The Fourth Amendment mandates that citizens shall be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. What type of governmental conduct is deemed unreasonable, and therefore unconstitutional, is determined by the particular facts and circumstances of each case. However, some hard and fast rules do provide guidance. First and foremost among these is the core principle that all searches, unless conducted pursuant to a warrant, are per se unreasonable, therefore unconstitutional. There are, however, certain well-crafted exceptions to the warrant requirement, permitting warrantless searches when the requirements of the relevant exception are met, a lawyer should be consulted to address the specific factual scenario in your case.
If you need help call The Rollof Law Office - now - at (612) 234-1165.