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Know Your Rights When Talking to Law Enforcement

Know Your Rights When Talking to Law Enforcement

What rights do you have while speaking with law enforcement officers? Know your rights by reading this resourceful guide and protect yourself legally.

1. At Any Time
Remember that in any conversation with law enforcement, what you say can and will be used against you. Your greatest privilege is that you have the right to remain silent.

This applies when criminal activity is at foot but also in situations such as accidents. For example: apologizing to law enforcement for not paying attention to the road and missing the stop sign, is evidence of admission and may be used against you in future litigation.

2. If You Are At Home
Your home is your castle. This means that the safest place where you may have the highest expectation of privacy is in your home. Law enforcement either need your consent OR they need to obtain a warrant to search your home in almost all situations. If the police show up to your door without reasonable cause to believe a crime is taking place, you do not have to speak to them or let them into your home. Right away ask them, “do you have a warrant?”

There are select scenarios where law enforcement do not need a warrant. If there is an emergency or the police have reasonable cause to search your home, they are legally allowed to enter and search your home. For example: the police hear screaming or a neighbor calls in on suspicion of emergency.

How do you determine if they have the right to enter your home? Ask the law enforcement officer. Be clear that you are not consenting to their search. If they tell you they have authority to enter your home, cooperate. If law enforcement doesn’t have authority and they entered without your consent, anything they seize would be illegally obtained and will be inadmissible in court. Leave that to lawyers to determine later. Do not risk getting charged with extra charges for resisting the search.

3. If You Are Pulled Over In A Vehicle
You can be pulled over for a variety of reasons, at which time you are required to show an officer your driver’s license and proof of insurance if you are pulled over while driving.

However, the police do not have the right to search your vehicle without your consent.

If you find yourself being pulled over on suspicion of driving under the influence, you may be asked to take a chemical test (breath, blood, or urine) to determine if you are under the influence. When you consent to operate a motor vehicle in South Dakota, law enforcement may ask you to take a chemical test, and the refusal to do so may result in an automatic driver license suspension of one year. This is referred to as the “implied consent” law.

You do have the right to contact your attorney before taking a chemical test.

4. If You Are Put Under Arrest
Law enforcement must read you the Miranda warning at the time of arrest. The short version is “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you.”

Do your best to cooperate with police and be quiet. You may face extra charges or dangers for resisting arrest.

Upon your arrest, you will most likely be detained, or held in custody. Police may frisk your person and your wingspan to make sure there are no weapons.

Can law enforcement take your blood or urine? In State v. Fierro (2014), the Supreme Court of South Dakota held that law enforcement are required to get a warrant to seize blood as evidence (in almost all cases). Know that you do not have to consent to giving up your blood or urine voluntarily.

If you have been arrested (lawfully or unlawfully), you have the right to speak to an attorney. Contact Griese Law Firm, P.C., immediately to discuss your arrest, your rights, and your defense strategy.

Disclaimer: This guide is not intended to, nor does it create an attorney-client relationship. This is a general overview for informational purposes only and is not intended to be fully inclusive, nor a comprehensive guide to the legal process. Each case has specific facts and circumstances that will dictate how it proceeds. Past results do not guarantee the same or similar results in the future. It is important that you speak to an attorney about your specific case.

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