Know Your Legal Rights
As an attorney, there are a few concerns that are commonly addressed by clients. One of those concerns is, “Should I have asked for my attorney?” The answer is YES.
The only time a person has an absolute right to an attorney is when he or she is accused of a crime. This right is expressed in the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. This right should be used before speaking to anyone, no matter how minimal the criminal offense may be or even if you know that you are innocent of the alleged crime.
I’m pretty sure most people have heard statements such as, “Why would an innocent person ask for an attorney?” “If you Lawyer up, you must be guilty?” That is not the case. If you “Lawyer up” that means you understand what is at stake and you are going to protect yourself and your rights. In order to protect yourself, this requires you to demand a lawyer be present. Not just any lawyer, a lawyer who understands your rights as an accused. A lawyer who is there to ensure a fair and honest investigation is conducted on your behalf. You have this right, use it.
- You ALWAYS have the right to a lawyer
- You DO NOT have to talk to anyone without a lawyer
- Anything you say can and probably WILL be used against you
Can an officer lie? A question that is frequently asked by clients is “Can an officer lie to me?” Of course an officer can lie. In fact, stretching the truth is a frequently used tactic during an investigation, which is also known as a “ruse”.
With the growing popularity of shows such as CSI and Law and Order, society can get a better understanding of investigation tactics used by officers and use of falsehoods to get information is a commonly utilized tactic. Although it does not seem fair for an officer to be untruthful, the justice system has deemed lying during an investigation as acceptable, which means statements given as a direct result of officer fabrications will be used as evidence.
Not only do officers fabricate facts as a tactical tool, but they also may promise certain immunities during an investigation. The one thing to remember is an officer has no control over the prosecution of a case. That job is solely left in the hands of a prosecutor not an officer. An officer cannot promise that a criminal complaint will not be filed and an officer for sure cannot promise a lenient sentence.
If you or someone you know happen to be in the unfortunate circumstance of dealing with a criminal investigation always be aware. Before you speak to anyone, remember you have the right to an attorney and that right should be used because you never know when someone might be stretching the truth.