Despite the Miranda warnings familiar to every TV crime show audience, people in custody often talk to police and prosecutors without an attorney present. But the TV shows are right: If you are under arrest, you should never submit to police questioning without the presence of an attorney who has experience defending clients in criminal matters.
Here are five reasons why you should consult an experienced criminal lawyer:
- Your lawyer knows your rights — Often defendants think they are required to give police anything they ask, particularly if they are convinced it will help their case. Not only should you not answer questions without a lawyer, but you should never submit to DNA testing, allow searches or hand over anything to law enforcement without asking a lawyer first.
- Police and prosecutors may say they want to help you but their goal is to convict — The U.S. justice system is intentionally adversarial, with police and prosecutors seeking convictions while defendants and their lawyers fight to have charges dropped or win acquittals. Any offer to help you in exchange for information should be viewed with suspicion. You need a lawyer to analyze the potential value of cooperation.
- You may be helping law enforcement build a case — Sometimes defendants, to please their interrogators, give information that is later used against them. Just because an official offers to give you a better deal for cooperating doesn’t mean they are bound by it. Police are allowed to make promises during interrogations and break them. The presence of a lawyer during interrogation puts a check on such practices.
- Your lawyer can protect you during an interrogation — A good lawyer will advise you on what questions you should or should not answer. He or she will also see through police ploys, such as a friendly offer of a can of soda that is later confiscated to test for DNA. Likewise, when police ask an unfair question or one whose answer could incriminate you, your lawyer can object before you have a chance to give information that could hurt your case.
- If you’re not in custody, anything you say still can be used against you — Even a routine traffic stop can be investigatory, triggering the requirement that police give Miranda In Florida, you are required only to identify yourself during a traffic stop and to hand over license and registration information when police ask for it. Answering further questions can be declined on the grounds that you request the right of counsel.
When retaining counsel in a criminal defense case, look for a lawyer who has successfully defended clients facing criminal charges in Florida and specifically in cases similar to yours.
Alan Fowler and his law firm, Key West Criminal Defense, have extensive successfully fought for his clients and their rights in criminal defense cases in Key West, the Florida Keys, and Monroe County, Florida. Call (305) 417-9378 or contact us online for a free consultation.