“If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.” – Will Rogers
If you find yourself under arrest, you are indeed in a hole, and potentially a whole lot of trouble. There are things you should do at that point to keep the hole from getting any deeper, such as calling a criminal defense lawyer immediately and exercising your right to remain silent. Unfortunately, many folks dig themselves a deeper hole by making poor choices while being arrested and shortly thereafter.
1. DON’T put up a fight.
If you watch the news, you know that police can and sometimes do act beyond their authority or in ways that can violate your constitutional rights. This can include the use of unnecessary force or verbal harassment and abuse. If this happens to you, you have every right to be offended and outraged. If you feel like you are being wrongfully arrested, you may be overcome with righteous indignation; understandably so. But the injustice you feel is being perpetrated should not lead to you to physically resist arrest or engage in violent behavior against law enforcement. It will not help your case and could result in additional criminal charges.
That doesn’t mean that any wrongful conduct on the part of police will go unaddressed. If the police have indeed overstepped their bounds in stopping, searching, questioning, or detaining you, that conduct can be used by your criminal defense lawyer in your defense. Wrongfully obtained evidence may be excluded or the charges themselves thrown out. Additionally, you may have civil claims for violation of your constitutional rights. Resisting arrest or acting violently could put those defenses and claims at risk. Remember that there will be a time and place to have your grievances heard.
2. DON’T try to talk your way out of the arrest.
You know from watching TV and movies that you have the right to remain silent when arrested and that anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. But that vital right to keep quiet often comes into conflict with a natural desire to explain your side of the story to police or to try to talk your way out of being arrested or charged. You’re nervous and desperate for a way out of your current predicament, and if the cops just understood what happened, it will be okay. This is almost always a bad decision. The more you say, the more chances you have to make damaging admissions or weaken your defense. Do NOT speak to police before consulting with an attorney.
3. DON’T consent to a search of your vehicle.
If you’ve been pulled over for a traffic stop, the officer may ask you politely whether they can search your vehicle. You should politely refuse. Police ask for permission before they search your car because they will almost always need your consent to conduct such a search at a traffic stop unless they have a search warrant or probable cause to believe there are illegal goods in the car, such as smelling marijuana or seeing a weapon or drugs in plain view.
Without a warrant or probable cause, any evidence obtained from your vehicle through a search without your consent will likely be suppressed by a judge and may not be used against you. But if you do give your consent, you are giving up any right to challenge the search, even if the police had no other valid basis for searching your car. Do not unnecessarily give up those rights by consenting to a search.
4. DON’T try to represent yourself.
If you’ve been arrested or charged with a crime in Colorado Springs, representing yourself can be one of the worst and riskiest decisions you could ever make. This is not the time to try to make things up as you go along. Criminal law is complicated, and you don’t know what you don’t know. There are procedural and evidentiary rules that could help your case but can just as easily be the keys to your conviction if you don’t know what you’re doing. The criminal justice system sometimes moves quickly and you can easily be steamrolled without having a criminal defense attorney by your side who knows how things work at the courthouse and knows how to get things done.
I understand the concerns about how much a defense lawyer can cost. But I also know how critical it is for anyone charged with a crime to have the best criminal defense representation possible. That’s why I work closely with my clients to provide that representation at a fair and reasonable cost.
If you’re facing Colorado Springs criminal charges, saving your future is simply more important than saving a few dollars.