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Criminal Law Practice in Denver and the following areas

Know & Exercise Your Legal Rights

Constitutional Rights
The US Constitution guaranteed these rights. Knowing how to use these rights in practice is very important to the outcome of any charges against you. Some of the more important Amendments to consider are:

  • 4th Amendment: Protection from unreasonable searches and seizures
  • 5th Amendment: The right to remain silent
  • 6th Amendment: The right to an attorney

Interacting with Police
If approached by the police, stay calm and relaxed. It is not in your best interest to get into an argument or be sarcastic or belligerent with a police officer. Always remain calm, do not make any threatening movements, and speak to them without getting agitated or raising your voice, and never run from the police. Many police incidents are recorded and bad behavior can harm your case in front of a jury. Never physically resist a police officer, only resist verbally by stating your lack of consent to a search, or your desire to remain silent or see an attorney.

Remain Silent
You are not required to answer questions by the police, you can simply state, "I am going to remain silent", this is especially try of the FBI, where charges can be brought against you because you lied in a federal investigation - this is what happened to Martha Stewart. The police can and often will lie to you in order to get you to admit something incriminatory against you in an investigation. Do not be fooled into thinking that because you are innocent you can talk without getting into trouble. The police to not have the authority to offer you immunity from prosecution, only the district attorney can do that. Everything should be in writing and your lawyer should be involved in the process. In all cases you are better off if you remain silent.

Miranda Misconceptions
Police are required to read the Miranda warning if you are under arrest or in police custody AND the officer is about to interrogate you about a crime. If you are approached on the street and asked questions about a crime, your answers can still be used against you because you were not in police custody at the time of the questioning. Do not be fooled into thinking you can beat the system if an officer does not Mirandize you, it is still best to remain silent.

The Right to an Attorney
You have the right to have an attorney present to advise you of your rights at all significant stages of a criminal proceeding. If arrested you can just say, "I am going to remain silent and would like to see an attorney".

The Right of Protection From Unreasonable Searches and Seizures
The police are required to have "reasonable suspicion" in order to detain or stop a person and question them, but are required to have "probable cause" to make an arrest or legally perform a search. "Reasonable Suspicion" requires circumstantial evidence that a crime has been or is about to be committed, whereas "Probable Cause" requires more concrete evidence indicating that a person has committed a crime. The laws surrounding searches and seizures are situational, and depend on your location and the circumstances surrounding the event. Below are some common examples of your rights under certain conditions...

  • On The Street
    If you have been stopped in person on the street or are being questioned on the street by the Police, you are not required to answer question, and cannot be legally detained if the officer does not have a "reasonable suspicion" to detain you. You can simply ask, "Are you detaining me, or am I free to go?". If the officer says you are free to go, you should leave immediately, or by staying, you are consenting to being detained. If the officer does not allow you to leave, then you are being detained which indicates the officer thinks he has a reasonable suspicion.
  • Traffic Stop
    If you are pulled over in your car as part of a traffic stop listen to the officers instructions and accept any tickets written, and never answer any questions that could incriminate you. You have the right at a traffic stop to refuse a request to search your call by the officer, you may simply state "I do not consent to any searches". If police try to frisk you or search your car, or asks you to open the trunk, you can always state, "as a matter of principle, I do not consent to searches", but never physically resist such a search. Simply stating this can help your attorney defend you in court, as any evidence that is illegally obtained may not be admissible in court. If the police ask you to wait while they call in the drug sniffing dogs, you have the right to ask, "am I being detained or am I free to go?". If the officer gives you permission to leave, do so immediately.
  • In Your Home
    If police ask to enter your home you have the right to ask for a search warrant. If the police have no search warrant you are free to not let them enter your home. Donít open the door where they can come in, and state, "I need to see a search warrant before I can let you enter".
  • Special Locations
    There are places where you can be searched legally without probable cause or a search warrant required. The Department of Homeland Security agents have the legal right to search you or your belongings in a U.S. airport at an airport security checkpoint and also at any U.S. border. The U.S. Coast Guard may board a boat anywhere in navigable waters of the US and conduct administrative inspections, with any evidence acquired being usually admissible in court.

It is impossible to cover all circumstances which may arise, so if you have additional questions please speak with one of our attorneys about a specific case.

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