If a Texas police officer has pulled you over in traffic or investigators have knocked on your door, it is critical to be aware of your rights, protected under various amendments of the U.S. Constitution. For instance, if a police officer starts asking you questions, are you obligated to answer them? Are you allowed to ask for legal assistance?
It is important to know the answers to these questions and also to understand that, no matter what a police officer suspects you of doing, your rights remain protected. One cannot usurp or violate them.
Always be respectful and cooperative
While you might believe that a police officer pulled you over without a justifiable reason or that you are a target, showing any type of aggression or disrespect may only make matters worse. If a Texas police officer has detained you, it is always best to cooperate.
If you believe a personal rights violation has occurred, you can address the issue through the proper channels later on. During and following an arrest, it is best to remain calm, to speak politely and to enter custody without resistance.
You may invoke your Fifth Amendment right to silence
Under the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, you can choose to remain silent if a police officer asks you questions during detainment. You must confirm your identity upon request. However, you do not have to answer questions, such as whether you consumed alcohol before getting behind the wheel.
To remain silent, you can tell the police officer that you are invoking the Fifth Amendment. You may also request legal support if you are the subject of a police investigation.
Unlawful searches or seizures
In most cases, unless an exception to the rule applies in a particular set of circumstances, police must obtain a validly authorized warrant to search your vehicle, residence, property or person. If police arrest you after a search conducted without a warrant, you can challenge any evidence that stems from the search in court.
Your statements or refusal to answer questions can be mentioned in a trial
During an arrest, police can use anything you say to try to incriminate you in court. For instance, if you feel compelled to tell a traffic cop that you had a couple beers a few hours before he or she detained you, the officer can use your statement against you if you wind up facing DUI charges.
During an arrest, be calm, be respectful and be cooperative. Do not do or say anything that a police officer might interpret as a sign of aggression. Most defendants request legal support as soon as possible because a criminal law attorney understands the adjudication process and can recommend defense strategies that best fit specific situations.