The most important assistance a criminal defense lawyer can provide a client before an arrest is to clearly identify their rights. In the following section we will be outlining a client’s rights upon being arrested by law enforcement. As soon as you are arrested by police you must ask to speak to a criminal defense lawyer. It is your right to have access to a lawyer, which is often referred to as having a right to counsel.
A right to counsel ensures a level of protection from self-incrimination. For example, anything you do or say while being arrested and brought into custody can be used against you in a court of law. By speaking to your criminal defense lawyer in a timely fashion they will advise you of the proper conduct as well as what to say and not to say to police. What if you do not have your own lawyer, or you are unable to afford a lawyer? If this is the case, explain to police that you wish to speak to duty counsel, in which you will then be put into contact with a public lawyer to offer you advise.
The next step is to remain silent. Police may hassle you for a statement or try to persuade you to answer questions, however the best course of action is to tell police that you do not wish to provide a statement or answer any questions at this time. Remember, it is your right to stay silent, which is backed by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. What would happen if you decided to lie to police and not remain silent? Lying to police can lead to an obstructing of justice charge and even telling the truth may further incriminate yourself, therefore the best decision is to remain silent.
What are police sanctioned to do during an arrest and thereafter? Once you have been arrested, it means the police believe they have reasonable grounds to lay a charge. Upon being arrested the police typically can conduct a more in-depth search and undergo the booking process. The booking process consists of driving you to the police station, entering your information into the police database, a thorough weapons search, a photograph and fingerprints.
Criminal defense lawyers often recommend that clients are aware of the difference between being detained and being arrested and the accompanying rights of police for each. Being detained means that a suspect is being held for further investigation and is not free to go while being arrested translates into police discovering probable cause that the suspect had committed a crime. During detainment a police office can conduct a protective pad-down search (i.e. frisk search) to ensure there are no weapons on your person, however police are not allowed to empty pockets, purses or other personal belongings unless an arrest has been concluded.
While being arrested (under probable cause of a crime being committed) the authority and power of police increase, for instance police are able to conduct a more detailed search of your pockets and car belongings and other authority based acts. Indeed, by speaking to your criminal defense lawyer it will ensure you are well aware of your rights upon being arrested.