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If stopped by police, here's what to do...and not do

Posted Friday, August 10, 2018 by Andrew Charles Huff

As a criminal and DUI defense attorney, I am often asked what to do if stopped by a police officer and you have been drinking alcohol. My standard advice is this:

1. Don’t Talk. You have a right to remain silent – take advantage of it. Do not attempt to convince the officer of your innocence. Most times, when people speak to officers they say something that makes their situation far worse. Speak as little as possible. There will be plenty of time to talk later.

2. Don’t Run. If you run or try and evade the officer, not only could there be additional charges, but if the case goes to trial, this could lead to evidence showing “consciousness of guilt” whereby the Jury is told basically “guilty people run, innocent people don’t”.

3. Never Resist Arrest. Perhaps the most important thing not to do is touch the police officer at all! Follow what the officer says.

4. No Searching. Do not allow the police to search anywhere! If the police officer asks, they do not have the right to search and must have your consent. If you are asked make sure you are clear when you state to police “You (the police) do not have consent to search.” If they perform the search anyway, that evidence may be thrown out later. Also, if you consent to a search, the officers may find something that you had no idea you or someone else had placed there.

5. Don’t Look At Places Where You Don’t Want Police to Search. Police are trained to watch you and react to you. They know that you are nervous and scared and many people look to the areas that they don’t want the police to search. Do not react to the search and do not answer any questions.

6. Do Not Talk Smack to the Police. It doesn’t matter if you have been wrongly arrested. Don’t talk smack! Police have a lot of discretion in the upcoming charges brought and how it all develops in the system. Police can add charges, change a misdemeanor to a felony, and will even talk to the prosecutor that is ultimately prosecuting you.

7. If Police Come to Your Home, Do not Let Them In and Do Not Step Outside Your Home If the police show up at your door and want inside, make it clear to them by stating: “No you may not come in”, or “I am comfortable talking right here”, or “You need a search warrant to enter my home.”

*8. If You Are Outside Your Home and Arrested, Do Not Accept an Offer to Go Back In Your Home for Anything. *The officer may say to you, how about you go inside and change, freshen up, talk to your wife, husband, get a jacket, or provide you with any other reason. The police will graciously escort you in and then tear your home apart searching through it.

*9. Don’t say a word. *Its’ incredible how many people feel that they can convince the officer, the booking officer or a detective (if your case reaches that stature) that they are not guilty. YOUR CASE IS NOT DECIDED BY THESE PEOPLE. They have no effect on guilty or not guilty. Wait to speak to your lawyer! The courts and juries in particular give enormous weight to “confessions” during this stage.