Most people enjoy a good cops-and-lawyers serial drama from time to time — but it’s a serious mistake to think that you know how the police are going to (or even should) act because you’re a serious CSI or SVU fan. The truth about the rules the cops must follow are much more strict in some ways, and much looser in others, than those kinds of show generally focus on. Here, our Lancaster, CA criminal defense experts reveal a few areas that most Palmdale people frequently don’t realize the cops are violating the rules:
Threatening Obstruction of Justice
This is big one on cop shows: if you don’t help the cops, they’ll charge you with obstruction. It’s sadly a common threat in real life, too, and it’s one that has no teeth. If you lie to the police in court, intentionally mislead the police in an investigation, destroy evidence, or manipulate witness — that is obstruction of justice. You’re under zero obligation to help the cops in any way — just don’t get in their way, and you’ll be fine.
The Miranda Rights Debacle
The cop dramas have really messed people up on this one. Miranda rights (“You have the right to remain silent,” etc.) are absolutely not required if you are under arrest. The only time that Miranda rights are required is when:
- You are going to be detained against your will (the legal term is ‘put into police custody’), and
- You are going to be interrogated (i.e. they’re going to ask questions proving you committed a crime.)
This can (and often does) happen after you are placed under arrest, but there is no connection at all between the Miranda rights and the fact of your arrest.
Interrogating You After You Invoke Your Right to an Attorney
Cops will do almost anything to get you to start talking, because once you start, they know you’ll keep talking. They’ll harass, verbally abuse, trick, deceive, and out-and-out lie to you to get you to break your silence. The reality is that as soon as the Miranda rights are read, literally anything you say can be used against you in a court of law.
The only correct thing to say to a police officer after you hear ‘you have the right to remain silent’ is “Am I free to leave, and if not, why not?” Then either walk away (if you can), or proceed to the next step, which is “I’m invoking my rights to silence and counsel. This interrogation is over.” If you only invoke your right to silence, they may continue to sit there and badger you for as long as they can — and they can do it in shifts, taking turns and keeping you awake, hungry, and thirsty until you start talking, so do both, and do both before you answer a single question from the cops.