As a criminal defense attorney, entirely too often, I have students call me who surrendered their 4th and 5th Amendment rights to law enforcement. If you are approached by law enforcement, and you are at a party, you need to know your rights and responsibilities. If you are a college student and are drinking under age you need to be capable of making informed decisions. While I do not condone breaking the law, as a criminal defense attorney in Ohio, I do believe everyone makes mistakes; especially teens and college students, and they should not have to pay for them for the rest of their lives. Absolutely everyone needs to know their rights; everyone breaks the law, unintentionally, in some way or another, every day – (speeding?!)
- First and foremost; it is the best to be polite, if you find yourself in this situation. Be courteous and cooperative, but don’t incriminate yourself – you do not have to give any information other than your name and address. You may be asked if you know what you have done wrong. Don’t say anything. Silence.
- You don’t have to show your personal identification that shows your age. You do not have to show your driver’s license or tell police your social security number.
- Do not ever lie; it is a crime to lie to police, but never a crime to refuse to answer any questions. Be very polite and firm even if you have been threatened or the officer seems mad. Often, I hear the officer has said “If you talk to me, it will make things easier”. No. It won’t for YOU, just for him.
- Don’t run.
- Don’t argue.
- Do not consent to a search of yourself or any of your bags. Giving consent waives your Constitutional right to be free from unreasonable search or seizure. Don’t even volunteer to a search. Remember this if you are having a party. Even if they forge forward to search, your refusal could lead to any charges being thrown out.
- If you are not under arrest, the officer has no right to hold you for any reason.
- Remember everything you can with your encounter. Record it if you can. It’s your right.
- Keep quiet. Call a criminal defense attorney, immediately.
The Bottom Line: You may be arrested. But the less information you give about yourself, and the more rights your exercise the harder it will be to convict you in a court of law. Put my number in your phone and know that you can reach me anytime: 513-260-2099