Know Your Rights

Absolutely Not.

It is never in your best interest to talk to law enforcement without an attorney. Police will often imply or promise that if a suspect cooperates, they may receive leniency or not be arrested. This is a lie and a common technique used by deceptive law enforcement agents.

Also keep in mind that police are allowed to lie to you about the state of the evidence to induce you to make a statement. For example they will often claim that they have fingerprints, DNA, or other physical evidence that implies you are guilty. They may claim that they have you on camera, or that your co-defendant made a statement against you. Never let claims by the police about the state of the evidence induce you to make a statement.

You may think you are helping your case by making a statement. However, you may be hurting your case without knowing it through actions or statements that block potential defense strategies. For example, your statement about self defense may forgo a possible false identification defense, since now the police know you were at the scene of the crime. Always resist the temptation to speak with law enforcement without first having contacted an experienced defense attorney.

Instead, inform the law enforcement of the following:
  • You are going to remain silent.
  • You want to speak with an attorney immediately.
  • If law enforcement agents keep trying to talk to you, don't say anything, even if they come back later and try to talk to you again. Remember - the fact that you refused to speak with law enforcement cannot be used against you at trial. Do not panic and do not allow law enforcement agents to bait you into breaking your silence.
They already think you are guilty, and everything you say will only be twisted to support their assumption that you are guilty.

Whether you are guilty or truly innocent, it is normal to want to explain your side of the story, even though doing so usually helps land you in jail or prison. If you are questioned by law enforcement, immediately invoke your right to remain silent and have an attorney present with you. The fact that you invoked your right to an attorney cannot be brought up against you or even mentioned at your trial. Anything you want to say now can be said through your attorney and after seeking an attorney's advice.

Absolutely not.

When a person is innocent or has a valid defense such as self defense, it is common to want to explain your side of the story to police. However, even if you are innocent it is crucial that you nevertheless invoke your right to an attorney and your right to remain silent. According to the Innocence Project, defendants confessed or admitted guilt in about 25% of cases where people served time in prison for crimes that they didn't commit. For more information on confessing to crimes you did not commit despite actual innocence, see the following articles:

Especially if you are innocent, you should always invoke your right to counsel and right to remain silent and get an attorney immediately.

If you invoke your rights and demand a lawyer, law enforcement should not legally question you further regarding your case. Not surprisingly, law enforcement agents often disregard the law and get another officer or police agent to try to question you about your case again. If you repeat to them that you want to invoke your right to remain silent and right to an attorney and say nothing else to them in response to their questions and statements, they will eventually follow the law and stop talking to you.

Absolutely Not.

If you invoke your rights and demand a lawyer, law enforcement will sometimes try to get other people to induce you into making a statement. For example, they may ask your cellmate or another inmate at the jail to ask you questions designed to trick you into making statements. They may ask a family member or friend to call you and ask questions about the case, while the call is being recorded. The jails always record all phone calls and jail visits, and read all of the letters that you send and receive from the jail. Furthermore, law enforcement almost always reads a suspect's text messages (whether they were erased from their phone or not) and looks at their Facebook page. Be very aware of what messages you send and what statements you make about your case, even when you are not talking to law enforcement directly. The only person who owes you a duty of confidentiality and can't testify about your statements is your attorney, so make no statements to anyone else about your case.

Absolutely Not.

It is never in your best interest to talk to law enforcement alone. Police will often imply or promise that if a suspect cooperates, they may not take you into custody or will be more lenient in your case. Sometimes they tell you that if you "give up three, you get out for free", especially in drug cases. If you decide you want to cooperate with law enforcement in exchange for leniency, this should always be done while you are represented by an attorney. An attorney will make sure any promises for leniency are done in writing, and after being fully advised of all of your rights. If you make a deal with the police without an attorney, the police can take advantage of you or fail to provide you adequate protection in jail or on the street. If you decide to provide information to law enforcement, you should always consult to attorney to be sure that your rights and your safety are protected during the process.

Absolutely Not.

The 4th Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees that all citizen of the United States have the right to be free of unreasonable searches and seizures. If law enforcement violates your rights, none of the evidence obtained as a result of the illegal search and seizure can be used against you, and often the case against you has to be dismissed.

However, if you consent to a search, law enforcement can search without a warrant, and they will often search in more areas in and more places than you originally allowed.

If law enforcement asks to search you, your home, or your car, tell them that if they do so it is without your consent. Look closely at anything that you sign and demand a copy of it immediately to be sure you aren't consenting to be searched in writing. The reality is that they may search anyway, but at least your consent can't later be used to justify the search. Always be respectful of law enforcement and don't physically stop them from searching, but politely make it clear that your consent was not given for the search.

Not necessarily.

Just because you are on probation doesn't mean that you are on search and seizure. Also, police must know first that you are on probation or parole before they conduct their search. Always be respectful of law enforcement and don't physically stop them from searching, but make it respectfully clear that the search is against your consent.

There is no reason to allow law enforcement to violate your privacy and your constitutional rights, even if you have done nothing wrong. Sometimes people have things that they don't realize are illegal, and sometimes other people have brought things that are illegal into your vehicle or home. Never consent to a search, and don't give up any constitutional rights without first consulting with an attorney.

Still have questions? Call the Law Office of Jessica Agnich today at 650.260.4105 for a FREE confidential legal consultation. You don't pay anything unless agreed upon in writing after your free consultation.
The Law Office of Jessica Agnich

605 Middlefield Rd.
Redwood City, CA 94063-1625

P: 650.260.4105 F:650.275.4415
Know Your Rights

9 common questions about your legal rights when dealing with the police