As I have handled more San Antonio criminal defense cases, I have come to the startling revelation that many of my clients would not find themselves in their current situation if they applied some basic rules when dealing with the police. If you are willing to remember some key points when dealing with the police, then you stand a far greater chance of either being released with a simple citation or being acquitted of all charges if you are actually arrested.
People have this naive idea that the police are willing to work with them, and if they simply explain the situation, the police will empathize and release them Wrong! The police are not your friends – think of them as the agents of the District Attorney’s office. The job of the police is to build a case against you. Even the purely innocent must be wary of any statements made to the police. What if the police claim you stated something you didn’t or they misinterpret your statements? Can you imagine a jury having to determine between a criminal defendant and a police officer as to who is telling the truth ? Who are they more likely to favor ? It is a no win situation and a lesson you should learn now as opposed to later.
Remember that the police may legally lie to you so never let them trick you into waiving your rights.
So in this blog entry, I will cover some basic rules on routine traffic stops that can become your worst nightmare if you do not follow some simple rules. With the aid of the following video, I will add some commentary to guide you through.
Review this first clip to see the RIGHT way to act with the police:
Notice how one person takes control of the situation – ie. One person does all the talking.
By rolling up all the windows, the officers’ access to the car is limited.
When first dealing with an approaching officer, allways put your hands on the wheel in plain view
By asking why he was pulled over, the driver asserts his innocence.
In response to the question , “Do you know the speed limit ?” , the driver asserts his 5th amendment right against self incrimination and does not answer.
“Officer, how can I help ? ” . This is a relatively easy way for the driver to be cool and courteous , a key rule to remember.
“Why officer?” Again, this question forces the officer in a corner. He must have probable cause to search the vehicle. It is interesting if he cannot articulate his reasons right then and there.
When asked to step out of the car, driver locks his doors. This makes it clear the officer does not have permission to search the vehicle.
“Are you detaining us officer or are we free to go ?” This is an excellent question.
Always ask if you can leave. The police must have some probable cause to detain you.
Make it verbally clear that you do NOT consent to any searches.
In these situations, the officer is NOT looking to help you.
What is the probable cause for detaining the occupants of a car ? There is none. It’s an idle threat.
Ask again if you can leave. Speeding does not constitute probable cause for a vehicle search.
What is the “next level” ? It is just police rhetoric designed to intimidate you into doing what they want.
The Supreme Court states that once you are cited, you are free to leave. If you stick around, it is on your own free will. Take the ticket and leave.
Did you notice the common thread in this situation ? The driver talked very little! Plus, he did not directly answer any questions. He simply asserted his right to remain silent and did not consent to any vehicular searches.
Knowing some of these basic rules can greatly assist you especially if you need a San Antonio DWI lawyer. Contact one today immediately if you have been arrested in Bexar County or surrounding counties such as Wilson County or Atascosa County.
UPDATE: Please read about this new Supreme Court Case on the right to remain SILENT and what you must do to protect it.