No-one wants to be arrested, or spend time in jail. In the unfortunate event that you, or someone close to you, is forced to deal with the criminal justice system, it’s important to know your legal rights.
- If a law enforcement officer believes that you have violated the law.
- If a law enforcement officer observes you violate, or attempt to violate, the law.
- If a law enforcement officer has information, or actual possession, of a warrant for your arrest.
- Contrary to popular opinion, YOU CAN, be arrested for a traffic violation, although this is rarely the case.
What To Do When Approached By a Law Enforcement Officer
- Be courteous & polite.
- Give proper identification. If you are in your motor vehicle, be prepared to give proof of insurance and registration. Warning: There are limited instances where your own identity is at issue and total silence, beyond a request to speak with an attorney, should be observed.
- Do not make sudden movements. If you are in your motor vehicle, do not exit the motor vehicle unless instructed by the officer.
- Do not attempt to antagonize or insult the officer.
- If you have been drinking, decline to answer any questions about alcohol consumption or take any field sobriety tests until you have been afforded the opportunity to speak with an attorney.
- Do not consent to the search of your person or your vehicle. It is fair to let the officer know that you will not consent without a warrant.
- At an appropriate time, feel free to ask the officer if you can go. If he indicates that you may not, ask if you are under arrest. If not, you should ask why you are being detained. A law enforcement officer may detain you for a reasonable amount of time for questioning or to apply for warrant(s). In Missouri, you may not be held for more than twenty-four hours without being charged. A person held for a long period, without being charged, can have his attorney file for a writ of Habeus Corpus to obtain his release.
Your Fifth Amendment Right Against Self-Incrimination – Make No Statements
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
Fifth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States
Is It Necessary to Hire an Attorney for Criminal Law, Traffic & Alcohol-Related Offenses?
No. You have the right to represent yourself, but it is never advisable. An experienced lawyer is trained in the law, the rules of evidence, and court procedure. An experienced attorney has a reputation with the court and the prosecution that you do not. An experienced attorney has the objectivity to address and handle the facts and circumstances of your case in a professional manner. If you are represented, you avoid the pitfall of making damaging admissions and representations through direct communication with the Court and the prosecution. The old adage, that anyone who represents himself has a fool for a client, is undeniably true.
For Experienced Professional Representation, Contact our office at (314) 725-1880.
DISCLAIMER: THE PRECEDING INFORMATION WAS OF A GENERAL NATURE AND NOT MEANT TO CONSTITUTE LEGAL ADVICE OR TO BE USED IN, OR APPLIED TO, ANY INDIVIDUAL SITUATION. THIS GENERAL INFORMATION IS APPLICABLE TO THE STATE OF MISSOURI AND MAY NOT BE VALID UNDER THE LAWS OF OTHER STATES. IF THE READER HAS SPECIFIC LEGAL QUESTIONS, HE OR SHE SHOULD CONTACT AN ATTORNEY.