Talking to the police about your potential involvement in a drug crime can be a stressful experience, even if you’re completely innocent. But you can prepare yourself for such encounters by knowing your rights. In the following article, we’ll explain your rights when being questioned by the police, and the circumstances in which you should hire a San Diego drug lawyer.
You Never Have to Talk to the Police, Even if You’ve Been Arrested
As Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson famously stated, “any lawyer worth his salt will tell the suspect in no uncertain terms to make no statement to the police under any circumstances.” This basically means that it’s never a good idea to talk to the police. While this may seem a little extreme, you never know when something you say could be used against you.
The 5th Amendment of the US Constitution’s Bill of Rights guarantees a person’s right to remain silent when being questioned by authorities on US soil. Whether an officer stops you for informal questioning, or is interrogating you after an arrest, politely inform him or her of your intent to remain silent. The officer may try to convince you that talking—or even confessing—will improve your circumstances, but this is never true.
Unless you’ve been placed under arrest, the police can only detain you for the amount of time necessary to confirm to deny the suspicion that you’ve committed a crime. You can end an encounter with a police officer by asking if you are under arrest. If he or she answers no, you have the right to leave, as guaranteed by the 4th amendment’s prohibition against unreasonable seizures.
You Should Hire a Lawyer if You’re Being Questioned After an Arrest
In general, you need a lawyer whenever you have reason to believe that you may face legal troubles. For example, if you’ve been arrested for a drug crime and are being interrogated, you absolutely should hire a lawyer. If you don’t have enough money, you can even request that the court appoint you one. Once you’ve clearly requested that you want a lawyer, the police must stop interrogating you.
An arrest usually leads to a criminal indictment. In this case, you’ll need to defeat your criminal charges or face a conviction and whatever penalties that may entail. Hiring a competent California criminal defense lawyer may be your only chance for avoiding a conviction, unless you are an authority on criminal and constitutional law intending to defend yourself.
A Lawyer Is the Safest Option if You Are Under Investigation
If you have not been placed under arrest, but have noticed that you or people with whom you associate are attracting the attention of the authorities, it may be a good idea to consult with a lawyer—even if you believe you are innocent of any crimes. For example, if you work in the medical marijuana industry, and have been making every effort to comply with regulations, you could still be charged with a crime after an investigation.
Therefore, any time your activities expose you to potential criminal charges, you should consult with a lawyer about how to remain on the right side of the law. It’s a good idea to have a plan or even a legal argument before the police start investigating you or your business.
Jessica McElfresh has a proven track record of defending people charged with drug crimes in the San Diego area. If you’re a member of the medical marijuana industry, you are always at risk of being charged with either federal or state drug crimes. If you want to speak with an experienced San Diego drug lawyer, call McElfresh Law today at (858) 756-7107 and we’ll give you a confidential consultation—free of charge.