Criminal Defense tips to remember - by Florida Criminal Defense Lawyers O'Toole Law Firm
Do you know your rights?
The attorneys at O'Toole Law Firm have over 25 years combined experience as prosecutors and criminal defense attorneys. We have seen good people give up their rights - unintentionally, out of fear, or just because they didn't know their any better. There is no reason to give up your rights. These rights are there to protect you. Giving them up can only hurt you. So, remember them and guard them.
1. You Have the Right to Remain Silent...So Don’t Say a Word!
Whether it is DUI, theft, shoplifting, drug possession, battery, sexual assault – everything you say will be used against you. Nothing you say will help you. The police have no authority to make things go easy for you if you cooperate. That is the State Attorney’s job.
Do not limit your options or the strategies available to your attorney before you've even made that first call from the police station! The police are good at making you believe that making a statement will help you. When the police officer asks if you would like to tell your side of the story, he or she isn't trying to figure out a way to justify letting you go. The officer is trying to figure out a way to justify arresting you! He or she is collecting evidence. Exercise your right to remain silent.
2. Exercise Your 5th Amendment Right.
The 5th Amendment to the United States Constitution states: "No person shall be compelled in a criminal case to be a witness against himself."
As long as any statements you make are voluntary, and you have not been compelled to say anything, those statements are admissible as evidence against you. On the other hand, if you choose not to answer the officer's question, which is your right, you effectively deprive the officer (and the prosecutor) of that evidence.
3. No such thing as cooperation helping you.
Many people who have been arrested recall the officer telling them: "If you work with us, we can make things easier for you." But the officer has absolutely no authority to make things "easier" for you once he or she sends the report to the prosecutor's office. Any "perks" you get for cooperating with the police (cup of coffee? cigarette?) end at the police station door. Cooperation can only hurt you. It never helps.
4. Always Ask to Speak With Your Attorney.
Police have their own set of rules that they need to obey just like everybody else. The 6th Amendment "right to counsel" says that if a suspect asks to speak with his attorney before or during questioning by the police, the police "must break off questioning immediately" and they may not begin questioning again until the suspect's attorney is present.
This gives you an enormous amount of power over the police. Rather than get angry, frustrated or scared and say something that can only make things worse for you, just politely ask to speak with your attorney. Make it clear that you do not wish to be questioned unless and until your attorney is present. Make that simple request, and the police "must break off questioning immediately."
5. Know Your Rights. Exercise Your Rights.
If you have been arrested, taken into custody, or charged with a crime, we hope that you have already exercised your right to remain silent. We also hope that you will exercise your right to speak with an attorney. Your freedom and your future may depend upon it. Please call 1-855-550-3476 or contact us by filling out the form on our website before making any legal representation decisions.