Just Say No to Warrantless Searches
If the police are asking for your permission to search, you are under no obligation to consent. The only reason they are asking is due to the fact that they do not have enough cause to search without your consent. If you do consent you are waiving all of your rights provided to you under the Fourth Amendment. You will give up your right to an unreasonable search and seizure, in your home, your car or on your person.
The protection against unreasonable searches and seizures than the Fourth Amendment provides to all citizens, in their homes, cars, and their persons is an awesome one. Most courts have recognized limited exceptions to warrant requirements for searches. However, the courts do not dispense with the need to have a reasonable belief in the circumstances surrounding a search, i.e., they must be able to articulate “probable cause.” The Fourth Amendment is a serious constraint on police conduct. Therefore, it is no small wonder that police prefer to conduct searches with the consent of the suspect. The Supreme Court requires a valid consent to be freely and voluntarily given and without coercion or duress exerted by police officers in obtaining the consent.
A bulk of avoidable police searches occur because subjects naively waive their Constitutional rights by consenting to warrantless searches. As a general rule, if a person consents to a warrantless search, the search automatically becomes reasonable and legal. Consequently, whatever an officer finds during such a search can be used AGAINST YOU!
Don’t expect an officer to tell you about your right not to consent. Police are not required to inform you of your rights before asking you to consent to a search. On the contrary, Texas police officers are trained to use their authority to get people to consent, and most people are predisposed to comply. If you don’t want an officer searching your personal belongings, you have the right to refuse consent by saying the following… “Officer, I understand that you just want to do your job, but I do not consent to any searches of my private property.”
You should never hesitate to assert your constitutional rights. Just say no! Never waive any of your rights without discussing the matter with an experienced criminal lawyer.
What To Do If You Have Been Arrested
The single most important piece of advice is not to say anything to the police. You’ve seen and heard it on every television show or movie you can think of. The good old Miranda Warnings. You have the right to remain silent.
Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law… These rights were given to you for a reason. If you are arrested, tell the police you want to speak to an attorney and do not want to talk with them about anything. Do not believe their promises of going easier on you if you cooperate. What you must understand is that if the police had enough evidence against you for a conviction, there would be no point in talking to you. Most criminals get caught and then convicted because someone has ratted them out. Don’t make the mistake of giving the police the evidence they need to convict you.
Have You Been Charged with an Offense?
The police are required to charge you with an offense if they are going to hold you. You have no obligation to submit to questioning by the police. Sometimes, if you are picked up at the crime scene, you will be questioned on the spot. Other times, you will be brought in for questioning. While you do not have the right to interfere with their investigation, you cannot be required to cooperate against your will or give them any information that might incriminate you. You must understand that a common tactic of the police when they do not have enough evidence to charge you with a crime is to gather the information they need from you to help make their case. The bottom line is if you are questioned by the police, do not tell them anything, other than to remind them that they either have to charge you with an offense or let you go. If they let you go, enjoy the rest of your day. You may, of course, want to speak to an attorney in case they find evidence to strengthen their case against you. If you have been charged with committing a crime, then you demand to speak to an attorney and tell the police you do not want to talk to them about anything.
Phone Call after Arrest
If you are formally arrested, you will be permitted to use the phone. The first phone call you should make is to a family member or close friend that can make bail arrangements and contact an attorney on your behalf. If the alleged crime is not serious, bail can be arranged at a relatively low cost.
For more serious crimes, your family member will have to contact a bail bondsman and pledge collateral for the bail bond. Make sure to find out from the bondsman whether any monies given are non-refundable. It is important that you get to go in front of a judge as soon as possible so that the issues regarding bail and release can be brought to the attention of the Judge. Never waive any of these rights. If you have not secured a private attorney, upon a showing of indigence, a public defender will be appointed to argue the issue of the amount of bail on your behalf. Do not represent yourself. If for some reason you cannot make bail, remember that the time you serve in jail will most likely be counted towards any prison sentence that is rendered by the court. Let up hope you never have the opportunity to apply any of this advice.