Being accused of a crime is a traumatic event in and of itself. During an actual arrest, it is perfectly normal and reasonable that you should lose the ability to think clearly, become flustered and unable to communicate, or even feel scared.
However, it is imperative you regain your focus as quickly as you can so that you can take the necessary steps to ensure all of your rights are protected.
While the most important thing to remember is that a skilled Texas criminal defense attorney is your best chance at getting a positive outcome, there are still steps that you need to take on your own.
This post provides five simple steps to keep you focused and occupied while you wait for your lawyer to arrive and in your initial meeting with him or her.
STEP 1: Exercise Your Fifth Amendment Right to Remain Silent
First and foremost, you do not have to answer any questions the police ask you apart from those which legally identify you.
Make no mistake, as soon as your Miranda rights have been read, anything you say can – and will – be used against you in a court of law. Your Fifth Amendment Right was put into place in order to protect you from becoming a witness against yourself in criminal trial.
STEP 2: Cooperate to the Best of Your Ability
Exercising your rights does not exempt you from being polite, respectful, and cooperative with law enforcement. Any other behavior – specifically touching, talking to, or yelling at officers – is likely to escalate the situation, and again, be used against you in court.
Even if you are innocent, resisting arrest can lead to additional charges. You may find it difficult to remain calm, but take a deep breath and continue moving through the following steps.
STEP 3: Ask for a Fort Worth Defense Attorney
The duty of law enforcement is to gather information and asses a situation upon arrival. Part of that is asking you questions. In fact, it is even legal for police to mislead you in order to obtain the information they need to prove their case.
If you are exercising your right to remain silent, they may push. Simply repeat calmly and politely that you’d prefer to speak to your lawyer prior to offering any statement or information. If you are at home and police do not have a warrant, do not allow them access.
Again, repeat your request calmly and politely for a lawyer to be present prior to any further action or explanation.
STEP 4: Remember the Circumstances of Your Arrest
While you wait for your attorney to arrive, become a silent observer. Go over the situation as it happened again and again, until you have committed the details to memory. Try and remember names, badge numbers, and patrol car numbers. You may need them.
Also note any injuries, and address them either by photographing or seeking medical attention as soon as you are released. Think about witnesses. How can you obtain their contact information? Even seemingly irrelevant details can affect the circumstances surrounding your arrest.
Once your attorney as arrived, whether on the scene of arrest or later, he or she will guide you throughout the criminal process. Let your lawyer know exactly what happened leading up to your arrest, how the arrest was handled by law enforcement, and all the details you spent time committing to memory.
At this time, you can also share whether you believe there are witnesses, and if you need medical attention. These details will help your lawyer to develop the strongest possible legal defense.
You can choose to have him or her present during interrogation, bail hearings, plea bargaining and any other aspect of trial as well.
So, if you are ever facing arrest, breathe deep as you are read your Miranda Rights, and begin walking through what you need to do in your mind.
Remember, your main goal should be to protect your rights until you have knowledgeable representation there to do so for you. Help is on the way.
About the Author:
After getting his Juris Doctor from the University of Houston Law Center, Jeff Hampton began practicing criminal law in Texas in 2005. Before becoming a defense attorney, he worked as a prosecutor for the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office – experience he uses to anticipate and cast doubt on the arguments that will be used against his clients. Over the course of his career, he has helped countless Texans protect their rights and get the best possible outcome in their criminal cases. His skill has earned him recognition from the National Trial Lawyers (Top 100 Trial Lawyers) and Avvo (Top Attorney in Criminal Defense, Top Attorney in DUI & DWI, 10/10 Superb Rating), and he is Lead Counsel rated.