The flash of lights and the blaring siren of a police car; these images are enough to cause anxiety for anyone. The feelings of fear can be so overwhelming that a person tussles over trying to find the right words to explain themselves. However, whether or not there is reason to believe that a crime was committed, the fact of the matter is there is absolutely no legal obligation to say a word to the police.
The Fifth Amendment explicitly states that you have the right to remain silent: "No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime… nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself." This further means that anything you do say, could potentially be used as evidence against you if your case is brought to trial.
Why Pleading the
Fifth Is Ideal
Here is an example of a situation where choosing to remain silent works to protect an individual from potentially offering up incriminating evidence. Say, for example, a person is pulled over because the police officer believed that person made an illegal driving maneuver. The officer might ask that person any number of
questions, such as "Do you know why you were pulled over?" or "Have you got anything illegal in your car?" Yet it is important to note that a police officer cannot formally charge someone with a crime; that is up to prosecution and if there reasonable cause for a case.
You should also be aware of the following if you are pulled over by the cops:
- The officer cannot search your car without a warrant
- The officer cannot detain you indefinitely
- Do not make sudden moves or reach for anything—the officer may think you have a gun
- Do not give the officer any reason or suspicion
The job of a police officer to intentionally get a person to confess to a crime, and this can be very intimidating for some people. Often times, the person might admit to something out of fear, even if there was no truth to their admission. That is why, if you are pulled over, remain calm and do not say anything.
Know Your Rights
Remember that under the Fifth Amendment, you also have the right to retain an attorney to provide you counsel for your case. An attorney's understanding of the law is broader, more intricate. The profession that they practice day in and day out is devoted to developing this knowledge and making sure that a person's rights under the law are fully protected. A police officer may or may not always remind you of these rights, so it is up to you to make sure that you understand this beforehand. Our experienced Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers at Lessem, Newstat & Tooson, LLP can also guide you so that you do not say anything that might be misconstrued as an admission of guilt.
Were you arrested? You must act quickly and hire a legal team to advise you of your rights and defend you from your charges. We are available at any time so call for a free consultation today!