Winning or losing a case against you often comes down to these factors
Most people tend to claim that they can operate calmly and with common sense when it comes to the law and if/when police come knocking. The truth is that all logic can quickly go out the window once stress sets in during and after an arrest. All those thoughts suddenly crashing down on you and wondering if your life is about to change forever. People often panic or make missteps and forget these simple, yet critical aspects that could easily lead to you winning your case just as easily as they could doom your chances.
1. Get clarity. Ensure you understand what you are under arrest for. If you don’t, ask for clarification.
The police will ask you if you understand after they read the charges to you or tell you what you’re under arrest for. They should ask you whether or not you understand. If you don’t understand ensure that you ask exactly what you are charged with. This is important because you will need to advise the lawyer you speak with what you are charged with in order to get proper and accurate legal advice. If you can’t advise the lawyer you’re calling what you are under arrest for, you may not be receiving the legal advice you need. Once the police tell you what you are under arrest for do not start debating the charges with them as you will then be making a statement that could be used against you in court.
2. Protect your Right to Counsel. If you are arrested or detained by the police then they are required to ask you if you want to call the lawyer. In order to protect your Right to Counsel, meaning you’re right to call a lawyer, you do need to be diligent in exercising that right. So when the police ask if you want to call a lawyer, say “Yes” and call Roulston Urquhart 403.474.8188 and listen to the lawyer’s advice. The police are not supposed to question you until you’ve had an opportunity to call a lawyer. But this doesn’t mean that you should just make a statement. It is more prudent to not say anything to the police or anyone else until you have had an opportunity to speak to a lawyer and obtain legal advice.
If you say “no” and that you do not want to call a lawyer, then the police are not obligated to let you call a lawyer and then anything you say to police can be used against you in court.
3. Do not consent to anything without asking your lawyer first. Search of your phone, car, house, etc. Even if not consenting may seem like you are trying to hide something, you are not obligated to agree to a search. If the police insist on searching without your consent and without a warrant then make it clear you are not consenting but do not try to physically stop the police as you could be putting yourself in physical danger.
Car: The police may be able to search your car if it is incident to arrest, meaning that you are arrested in your car and there is some evidence that may be found in your car that is related to the charge they are arresting you for.
Phone: The police may seize your phone incident to arrest or with a warrant and ask or demand you for your password. You are not under any obligation to provide your password.
House: The police can only enter your house with your consent, with a warrant, or in exigent circumstances. This could mean when someone has called 911 or there is a circumstance that someone is in danger in the home.
4. Understand the true scope of giving a statement. A statement to the police includes oral, written or audio/video. Just because you did not write a statement doesn’t mean you didn’t give a statement because simply speaking to the police is considered giving a statement.
Making a statement to the police has its pitfalls for some of the following reasons:
• you are in a very high stress situation if you were being arrested and may not be able to properly formulate your thoughts to explain your side of the story to police
• the police may not even consider any statement you give and only arrest you on the basis of what someone else has said. Now the statement you have given to the police could possibly be used against you in court.
• if you give a statement to police, you may not have the full story as to what the allegations against you are and therefore you cannot answer in detail. This could hurt you later on in court if you get cross examined and or asked why you didn’t explain this detail. It could affect your credibility at trial.
Therefore, it is safer and more prudent for you to follow your lawyer’s advice if they tell you not to say anything. However, you can tell the police your name, address, and employment.
5. Refer to your lawyer regarding statements. Even though you tell the police that you do not want to make a statement and your lawyer told you not to say anything, the police can still continue questioning you. If your lawyer tells you not to say anything, then a response you can give to the police is “my lawyer told me not to say anything “and you can answer in this manner to every question if you do not want to provide any statement to the police.
6. Be mindful of who you talk to in jail. If you are under arrest for a more serious matter, the police may place an undercover officer in a jail cell with you. This undercover officer may attempt to have you open up and explain the reason why you are in jail in hopes of obtaining a statement from you to use it against you in court. Therefore, if you are in a jail cell, do not have any discussion with anyone about your charges except your lawyer. Even if the person in the jail cell is someone who is not an undercover officer, any statements you give to that person can also be used against you in court if they are called to testify.
7. Stay calm, because there’s always a camera somewhere. Because you are likely being recorded at some point during the arrest, it is important that you remain calm and say as little as possible while you were interacting with the police until you can obtain legal advice. This means if you are argumentative or ranting and raving about the arrest or charges, the judge could be given that video to watch at your trial. You will then be put in the position to explaining why you’re acting the way you are on video. It always looks worse on video.
8. Call your lawyer right after being released. Calling your lawyer when you get released is very important. We will begin implementing the strategy and advising you about what you can do to start defending the charges against you. We will also review the court process and the potential jeopardy that you could be facing with respect to your charges. After we get the disclosure, we can go through it with you and provide you with a detailed legal opinion to advise you of your options on how you should proceed.
9. Keep detailed notes and not leave everything to memory. Writing down exactly what happened from the allegation all the way to the interaction with police is very important. Memories fade. Ask yourself what you did last Thursday, moment by moment. It will probably be very difficult for you to recall. Even though this is likely a very significant event in your life, you may forget some very important details that you need to share with us as your lawyers. A small detail could affect how we defend and win your case.
10. Don’t discuss your charges with anyone other than your lawyer. Your family and friends are going to be concerned about you. They may ask you questions or text you and make inquiries as to what happened. It is very important that you do not discuss your charges with anyone except us, your lawyers. This is because there is confidentiality between your lawyer and you. There is no confidentiality between a family member and yourself or a friend and yourself. If the police question your family member or your friend as to what you told them, that statement you gave to the family member or friend could be used against you in a trial and they could influence the outcome of your charges.