Know your rights and how the system works.
There are few things in life as stressful and unsettling as getting arrested. Fortunately, the legal system provides you with certain protections to preserve your right to due process when accused of a crime in California. Knowing those rights, how to exercise them, and what to expect after the arrest can help make your defense attorney’s job simpler and the criminal justice system a little less frightening.
Your basic rights when dealing with the police are:
· Right against unreasonable search and seizure – the Fourth Amendment protects your person and your property from government search without valid reason. You have a right to privacy. In most cases, the police cannot search you, your home, your car or any other property without first seeking the permission of the court.
· Right to remain silent – the Fifth Amendment gives you protection against self-incrimination. The police cannot force you to make statements that might be against your own best interests. And, should you choose not to make a statement, that cannot be held against you at trial.
· Right to an attorney – the Sixth Amendment guarantees you the right to be represented by legal counsel when suspected of a crime. You can have a defense attorney present during questioning by the police, and the courts must provide you with a defense attorney if you cannot afford one.
What to Expect When Stopped by Police
According to the FBI, police made more than 1.5 million arrests in California in 2006. So let’s look at what the police are allowed to do before and after the arrest.