Police Contact in Colorado
By Colorado Criminal Defense Lawyer – H. Michael Steinberg
Police Contact In Colorado – It has been one of the most difficult topics to convey to the average person on the street – resisting the natural intimidation one feels from the police.. Here is what you need to know – you have the right to remain silent – you have the right to a lawyer – you have the right to refuse to permit a search.. You have the right to walk away and not answer questions..
You have these right because you live in this great country.. So please read on..
When You Are Dealing With The Police And Other Colorado Authorities
You never have to refuse to talk to the police, the FBI, the DA, or for that matter any other government agent or investigator. The object of law enforcement is to collect or – if necessary – to create information (evidence) to make an arrest and to prosecute you… they often make mistakes and while their intentions may be to be fair – human nature takes over – and winning at all costs becomes the objective.
The Key To Your Defense – One Phrase – I Choose To Remain Silent – I Want to See a Lawyer”
The key words you need to memorize and then utter when confronted – in every situation – are simple. One phrase ends the questioning – ends the intimidation – ends the control the police attempt to assert over you …
Let me totally clear – these are the words you must say – no others – no hesitation – no ambiguity – no retraction – you MUST BE FIRM. These are the “constitutional words” – these words that are your impenetrable shield.
Sometimes called “lawyering up” – this phrase ends the “interrogation.” I cannot be clearer than this – you are under no legal obligation to talk to the police. If you agree to talk to them, they will do everything they can to trick you into giving them the very information they need to arrest you or to prosecute you or someone you love.
The police may try to act as if they are your friend.. They just want “your side of the story. If being friendly doesn’t work – they will try intimidation .. They have the right – under Colorado law – to lie to you – to trick you – and to confuse you.
I am not saying you must be rude – but don’t allow yourself to be drawn into what may seem like an innocent conversation with the police, the FBI, or other investigators. I was a prosecutor for 13 plus years in two states – I am telling you – a good prosecutor will take your words and manipulate them – change them – spin them – alter them and rearrange them to be used against you or others.
Police Contact in Colorado – If I Am Contacted – Stopped – Or Arrested On The Streets Of The Cities And Towns Of Colorado – What Should I Do?
So what should I do if I am approached by police?
If you are stopped while not in an automobile and questioned or even arrested by the police, you have the right to remain silent; you do not have to answer any questions about anything especially about alleged crimes they suspect you may have committed. You should provide your name and address only if requested.
Remember the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
Stay calm and keep your hands visible.
Ask the officer – “Am I being detained or am I free to go?”
If you are free to go – that is – if they do not tell you that you are “detained” or “under arrest” walk away. Be polite and be firm ” I am going now.” Then go….leave the scene.
On the other hand – IF you are being detained, you still have the right NOT to answer their questions. You can and should always give your name and address but then say this … AGAIN…
While you should always provide your name and address to a police officer who is investigating a crime, you are not legally obligated to talk to him or her – whether you are on the street, at your home or your office. Even if you have been arrested and in jail.. DO NOT BE INTIMIDATED . by what these officers say.
Only a judge – on the bench – in court – has the legal authority to order you to answer questions.
How Hard Is It To “REMAIN SILENT?”
It is hard… but – remember – under the 5th Amendment every person has the right to remain silent in the face of questions posed by any police officer or government agent. Since the law allows the police to lie to you and agents, investigators, and other authorities can use manipulation and deceit to pretend to be on your side, …if you even try to answer their questions by conveying to them your understanding of the facts – you are in grave danger …because even a seemingly harmless bit of information can hurt your case later in trial.
It will feel strange at first to say things like, “I choose to remain silent. I want to see a lawyer or ” Or to ask “Am I being detained or am I free to go?”, … But that is what you must do – every time. You can “take the Fifth” because you live in the United States and you cannot be forced to incriminate yourself.
Even if you forget to assert your right to remain silent – it has not disappeared – you may ALWAYS say the constitutional STOP words at any time – including – especially after you are arrested.
You can say them again- and again and as often as necessary to make the questioning stop.
If you do say them – then you must STOP and not say anything else… Do not ask advice from the officers who have stopped you…. they will use that opportunity to get around the Miranda warnings and ask you if you NOW want to talk to them.. Be careful.
You do NOT Need To Have Or Even Know A Lawyer To Ask For Your Lawyer
You should tell the police you want your lawyer – you want to see your lawyer. You do not have to already have one. Just asking for your lawyer stops the questioning
The Fear Of “Getting Into Trouble” If I DO NOT Talk
Refusing to make a statement or answer questions does NOT make you a suspect?
Refusing to speak is not grounds for arrest or detainment. Remember that the police and other law enforcement agencies are well trained at getting information from people. The fear that many have that their refusal to “cooperate”makes it appear as if they have something to hide is a dangerous idea – and it is exploited by unscrupulous and experienced police officers.
Also – do not wait for the police to read you your rights.. Get the jump – utter those critical words and then stop talking..
Police Contact in Colorado – Understanding The 4thAmendment – The Right To Be Free From Unlawful Searches and Seizures
The government does not have the right to search your car or your home unless they have a search warrant, probable cause, or your consent. They cannot conduct an “exploratory search, that is a search for evidence of a crime generally or even for evidence of a crime unconnected with you or your actions. It is amazing how quickly you can go from a witness – to a person of interest – to a possible target – to a suspect – to being placed under arrest.
Saying “I do not consent to any search” is NOT reason/ or probable cause for a search.
If you are arrested, an officer will search you and your bags. If you are unclear whether you are under arrest, say, “I do not consent to a search.”
ONLY sign an “Agreement to Appear.” Don’t sign property lists, statements, medical forms or anything else. And you do not need to answer ANY questions.
A stop for a traffic violation does not give the police the right to search your automobile.
You are not required to consent to a search; DO NOT consent – In fact – state clearly and unequivocally that you do not consent. Witnesses at the scene – if any – should be able to hear you refuse your consent.
The DA and his or her police witnesses always have the burden of proof in court to prove you consented or they had probable cause to search your car.
If You Are Arrested – Do NOT Resist
Do not resist arrest forcibly – DO NOT go limp – even if you are innocent and you are outraged. If you resist and give them reason to do so – you will be charged with a separate count and you might actually be convicted of that crime and acquitted of the original charge.
Under no circumstances should you resist arrest – and you should encourage others – such as loved ones – to stay clear of the arrest – as they also might be charged with the crime of interference..
But you should resist the type of so called “friendly” conversation you might be tempted to engage in on the way to or at the station. Understand this – nothing you tell the police after you are arrested will result in your release.
After you are are booked – you have the right to make at least two phone calls—call your family and ask them for help finding a bondsman. Then start your search for a lawyer. I have written your right in Colorado to make those phone calls.
You must be allowed to hire and see an attorney as soon as possible.
You Have The Right to Observe And To Record – Police Activity
The right to observe the police is guaranteed and constitutionally protected activity. The public has a right to videotape police actions If the police are in a public place, they do not have a ‘reasonable expectation of privacy’.
Remember also – the police are also required to provide to you their names and badge numbers.
Police Contact in Colorado
Denver Colorado Criminal Defense Lawyer
The Law Offices of H. Michael Steinberg, in Denver, Colorado, provides criminal defense clients with effective, efficient, intelligent and strong legal advocacy. We can educate you and help you navigate the stressful and complex legal process related to your criminal defense issue.
H. Michael Steinberg, is a Denver, Colorado criminal defense lawyer who will provide you with a free initial case consultation to evaluate your legal issues and answer your questions with an honest assessment of your options and to answer questions about Police Contact in Colorado.