Tuesday, December 11, 2012
What Should I Do If I’m Stopped by the Police?
Here's a couple of easy answers to some hard questions about contact with the police from an experienced Minnesota Criminal Defense Attorney.
I. Do I Have To Answer Questions If I am Stopped by the Police?
No, you don’t, not under any circumstances. But note this twist that surprises some people: the safer you feel, the more likely you are to incriminate yourself. So, what should I do if I am stopped by police? I’ve discussed this before, but it merits fine tuning.
II. Am I Under Arrest?
If you are stopped by police and talk to them and you are free to leave—such as if you are not in a squad car or police station, or if you have been told you are not under arrest or are not a suspect in a crime—what you say to the police can be used against you without a prior Miranda warning or an opportunity to have your lawyer present.
III. If You are Under Arrest
Once you’re under arrest or “in custody,” the police cannot use what you say against you unless you have been Mirandized first and told that you have a right not to speak and to have an attorney present. The basic distinction between whether you are or are not under arrest is whether you are free to leave.
But it is not illegal for the police to allow you to feel free to leave so you will talk to them–then they arrest you five minutes later. (Trust me - It happens.)
IV. I Got a DWI. When Was I Under Arrest? What Should I Do?
Most of my clients tell me that they were not given their Miranda warning until long after they were stopped by the police. In a “typical” DWI, the suspect will be stopped, questioned in the car (“have you been drinking tonight?”), given field sobriety tests (heel-to-toe walk, follow the pen with your eyes), handcuffed, placed in the squad car, driven 20 minutes or so to a police station, and questioned some more before being Mirandized. Anything you say during this process can and will be used against you even though you were not advised of your right to remain silent or to have a lawyer, because you were not under arrest yet (even the handcuffs do not constitute arrest if the police say that the handcuffing was “for officer safety”).
V. Don’t talk to police without your lawyer present
This goes for individuals who are innocent. Click HERE)
If you're reading this after the fact --- help can still be had. Please call the Rolloff Law Office today to set up a free consultation: (612) 234-1165.