Know Your Rights

Sep 27th, 2017 | by Scott C. Thomas, Orange County Criminal Law Attorney

If you’ve ever watched “Cops,” you’ve heard the phrase, “Anything you say can, and will, be used against you, in a court of law.” With Weekend 1 of Coachella right around the corner, I thought it might be helpful to give you all a quick rundown of what your rights are, and how to invoke them, should you find yourself being questioned by the police.  Read below so you know you rights and what to do to mitigate charges.

First off, do not initiate contact with the police. Why? Well, once you initiate contact with law enforcement, it is deemed a consensual encounter, and should the officer notice that, say, you have dilated pupils, you have effectively opened the door for the officer to investigate you based on any observations made during the conversation. Put simply, if you walk up to the horse-mounted police officers to pet the horse, you’re gonna have a bad time!

Next, if an officer approaches you, do not answer any questions; politely state that you will not answer any questions and ask the officer if you are free to leave or if you are being detained. If the officer tells you you’re free to go, get out of there; if the officer tells you that you are being detained, politely state that you’re invoking your right to remain silent and will not answer any questions without your attorney present.

More often than not, people think they will curry favor with law enforcement officers by answering questions or making admissions. However, this is NEVER the case. While it is essential to treat the officers with respect and to be polite, you will not do yourself any favors by answering questions posed by law enforcement officers. Nothing good, in my experience, has ever come from speaking to the police who are investigating you.

I am often asked how one should go about invoking their rights, in a polite way; the linked YouTube video provides an excellent example of how to politely assert your rights to a law enforcement officer. The video can be found at the following address: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qkKk5VAy59w (skip to the 1:00 mark for the good stuff).

Also, if you feel you might have trouble asserting your rights or articulating your thoughts, print out a Miranda response card, which can be handed to an officer instead of orally invoking your rights, and can be found on my law office’s Facebook page.

Lastly, and most importantly, my advice is to not break the law. Period. That being said, be safe out there, stay hydrated and have (legal) fun!

Scott C. Thomas

Law Office of Scott C. Thomas
(949) 945-2085


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