Did you know that when you come in contact with the police, you have certain rights? From having the right to remain silent to the right to an attorney, these are important things to know even if you have never come in contact with the police before! After a charge is made, contact a New Jersey attorney like Leon Matchin as soon as possible. An attorney will be able to closely analyze your case and potentially get charges dismissed or downgraded. In the meantime, learn more about the rights you have when interacting with the police.
Right to Remain Silent
The right to remain silent is stated in the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. This amendment is designed to protect people from providing self-incriminating evidence. You probably have heard the saying “you have the right to remain silent” in movies. This is something the police actually say to people. This statement is considered a Miranda Right.
Here is what a police officer will say when reading the Miranda Rights: “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 you understand the rights I have just read to you? With these rights in mind, do you wish to speak to me?” In the state of New Jersey, the following line will also be added: “We have no way of giving you a lawyer, but one will be appointed for you, if you wish, if and when you go to court.”
This right is very important as it prevents those who are arrested from saying something incriminating without a lawyer present.
Right to an Attorney
The Sixth Amendment to the Constitution says that defendants have the right to an attorney in all criminal prosecutions. If the defendant cannot afford an attorney, this means that the government will provide them with an attorney free of cost. This is a very important right. An attorney is key to helping a defendant build a case and get charges either dropped or downgraded.
You Can Refuse a Search if the Officer Doesn’t Have a Warrant
When an officer pulls you over, they cannot search your car unless they have a warrant or “reasonable” belief that there is a weapon or other illegal contraband in the car. If an officer asks to search your vehicle for no reason, you can decline. Business Insider notes that there are certain circumstances where a search without a warrant is legal:
- If something illegal is in plain view (ex: drugs), the officer can search your car without a warrant.
- If the officer has probable cause such as plain smell of marijuana for instance then they can search the car without a warrant. Remember, possession of marijuana up to six ounces is legal but driving under the influence of marijuana is not.
- An officer can also search your car without a warrant if they believe there is evidence inside that is about to be destroyed.
It is vital to know that in general, an officer cannot search your car without a warrant. If a police officer does in fact have a warrant, you cannot deny them searching your car. Additionally, an officer can pat drivers down through their clothes without a warrant if they expect that you are carrying a weapon.
Immigrants to the United States who are not citizens still have the same rights under the Constitution that citizens do. This means even if you are undocumented, you still have the right to remain silent, have access to a free attorney and decline a search without warrant.
Rights and a New Jersey Attorney
Getting pulled over and interacting with the police can seem very intimidating. It is important to keep in mind that you have rights when interacting with the police. The United States Constitution gives you rights, whether you are a citizen or not. The right to remain silent and the right to an attorney are both identified in amendments to the Constitution. In addition, when pulled over, drivers have the right to refuse officer to search the car without a warrant.
Don’t panic when you are interacting with the police. Maintain a polite and respectful demeanor as you practice your rights. Keep in mind that once the interaction is over and the charge is delivered, you’ll want to contact a New Jersey attorney right away. Leon Matchin, a Certified Municipal Court Trial Attorney, has over 20 years of experience practicing law in the state of New Jersey. He has defended many clients over the years and has had great success getting charges dropped or downgraded.
If you or a loved one have received a criminal charge or a traffic violation that will be heard in the Municipal Court system, give New Jersey attorney Leon Matchin a call at 732-887-2479, or contact him via email at [email protected]. He will set up an initial consultation to learn more about you and your case.