I thought I’d go a little off my usual scope with this post. You’re probably well aware of my opinions of the Republican candidate Donald Trump, and the severe threat he poses to our civil liberties. At a time when the country’s in such a strange state of flux, I feel it’s important for everyone to brush up on certain fundamental rights. Here are a few rights everyone has when placed under arrest. Be sure to read and understand them!
You’ve probably been watching TV long enough to know the “right to remain silent”, and that the police can’t ever coerce you into saying anything you don’t want to. The next major right you should be aware of is that you can have an attorney present if you ask for one. In police questioning sessions, and any trials that might follow your arrest, you have an inalienable right to legal counsel when you request it. If you tell the police that you want to talk to a criminal defense attorney, and they stall or try to continue questioning you, then your rights may have been violated. Remember that even if you don’t have any money to pay for an independent attorney, the state is required to assign you one to you with no charge.
You should bear in mind that these rights pertaining to your legal counsel are still relevant at any point in the questioning. If you’ve been arrested for a crime, especially if you feel that you’re not guilty of that crime, you may start off assuming that you can handle the whole mess yourself. Later in your questioning, there may be certain things that you’re not sure of, and you may change your mind about waiving the right to an attorney. If this happens when you’re right in the middle of questioning, the questioning should really stop until the attorney arrives. That is, unless you make it clear that you’re happy to answer their questions with no legal counsel at all!
Finally, you need to make sure that you’re being treated humanely and in accordance to your other rights. Despite what the media may have us believe, police who abuse their authority are extremely rare, whether out of a sense of human dignity or a desire to keep their job! Still, some abuses are more common than others. Be aware that the police can’t hold you for an extended amount of time without formally charging you with something. For example, if you were arrested on suspicion of theft, and kept in a holding cell on that suspicion, one of the officers must formally tell you that you’re charged with a crime before a certain time and date. What that time and date is can vary. In most states, the holding period is forty-eight hours. However, it can be slightly longer or shorter depending on where you are.
I hope that you’ve found this information somewhat assuring. I also hope that you never have to remember it for practical application!