As a criminal defense attorney, I earn my living representing people who’ve been arrested and charged with crimes. That doesn’t mean that I reserve giving out legal advice to clients only. The US legal system can be tricky to figure out, so in some cases, I give out free lawyer advice to people, even if they don’t become clients. Getting free lawyer advice from me doesn’t mean you should represent yourself in court should you end up on the wrong side of the law. This advice is meant to help you make the best decisions should you get arrested or need help in the court room.
Know Your Rights
The best piece of legal advice I or any lawyer can give you is to know your rights. Our country has laws that are designed to protect people when they are arrested. In some cases, people aren’t aware of these laws or don’t realize that they have certain rights after an arrest. If you are arrested, the police need to read you the Miranda warning:
- You have the right to remain silent
- Anything you say can be used against you
- You have the right to an attorney
- An attorney can be assigned to you if you can’t afford one
Often, your best bet is not to say anything to the police until your attorney arrives on the scene. If you don’t have an attorney, request one. Don’t feel intimidated by the cops. They legally can’t make you say anything, thanks to the Fifth Amendment. If you’re arrested and the police try to question you, tell them that you are claiming your right to remain silent.
Don’t Fear the Polygraph
Your right to remain silent extends to the polygraph, or law detector test. The police can’t make you take a polygraph test, under any circumstances. Even if you know you’re innocent, I’d advise against taking a lie detector test, for the following reasons:
- The results can be inaccurate
- The results can be used against you in court
- Even if the prosecutor doesn’t use the results of the polygraph test in court, they can use the results to help them build up a case against you
Understand What Police Can and Can’t Search
One last piece of free lawyer advice from me. Don’t let police intimidate you with search warrants. A search warrant doesn’t give the cops carte blanche to tear through your house, looking for any type of evidence. Police are given warrants if they have probable cause and the warrant specifies where they can search and what they can search for. There are some exceptions to the rule, though, that you need to be aware of:
- Police can seize evidence that is in plain view. That means if you’re growing pot on your lawn or if police see you in your car or on the street committing a crime, they can seize the evidence right then and there without getting a warrant first.
- During an arrest, a cop can search your person for weapons without a warrant. The police can also search the area looking for an accomplice during an arrest.
The best free legal advice I can give is to tell you to learn your rights and put them into practice. If you need more in-depth advice about a criminal case, contact our law offices for a free consultation.