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?!)

  1. 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.  
  2. 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.
  3. 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. 
  4. Don’t run.
  5. Don’t argue.
  6. 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.  
  7. If you are not under arrest, the officer has no right to hold you for any reason.  
  8. Remember everything you can with your encounter. Record it if you can. It’s your right.
  9. 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