Sarah was on her way home from the mall, when she noticed the police car behind her. She kept checking her rearview mirror for several blocks. Finally, just as she turned off the main road, the patrol car lit up and signaled for her to pull over. The officer started asking Sara questions regarding her purchases—had she paid with cash? Did she have a receipt? Would she mind if he searched her car?
Sarah was unsure how to respond to the questions. She knew she hadn’t done anything wrong, but the cop’s demeanor suggested otherwise. She wasn’t sure how to answer or whether she should allow him to search her car.
The rights you have
We are lucky to live in a country where the U.S. Constitution confers so many rights and freedoms to us. Three of these rights are: The right not to incriminate ourselves (Fifth Amendment), the right to an attorney if we have been criminally accused (Sixth Amendment), and the right against unlawful search and seizure (Fourth Amendment). In the above case, Sarah is in jeopardy of having all those rights violated.
Without good counsel from an experienced defense attorney, Sarah may not know that a/she does not have to speak with the officer at all and b/she does not have to grant permission to have her car searched. In fact, the most important thing Sarah can do in this situation is to invoke her rights by saying, politely but firmly, “I want my attorney and I will not talk to you.”
By saying this short sentence, Sarah has protected herself. It is important to remember that it is our responsibility to invoke our rights—not law enforcement. Having a defense attorney’s phone on speed dial may mean you can get other questions answered immediately. Your future can only be protected by you—make sure you are proactive!