by Kansas Criminal Law Attorney Paul D. Cramm
Do you know your rights? Are you prepared to use them?
I am Paul D. Cramm, a criminal defense lawyer in Overland Park, Kansas. I have defended hundreds of clients throughout the Kansas City area against all types of criminal charges. In my years of practice, I have seen many citizens give up their rights – unintentionally, out of fear, or just because they didn’t know their constitutional rights. I hope these tips will prevent you from making the same mistakes. Contact my Kansas and Missouri law firm for a free consultation about any criminal charges. Remember, it is always best to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as you have any reason to believe that law enforcement suspects you of criminal activity.
You Have the Right to Remain Silent… Do So!
Do not limit your options or the strategies available to your attorney before you have even made that first call from the police station! When the police officer politely asks if you would like to tell your side of the story, he or she isn’t trying to figure out a way to justify letting you go. The officer is trying to figure out a way to justify arresting you! He or she is collecting evidence. Exercise your right to remain silent.
Exercise Your 5th Amendment Right
The 5th Amendment to the United States Constitution states: “No person shall be compelled in a criminal case to be a witness against himself.” Notice it specifically says “compelled” meaning forced or required. As long as any statements you make are voluntary, and you have not been compelled to say anything, those statements are admissible as strong evidence against you. (Bad.) On the other hand, if you choose not to answer the officer’s question, which is your right , you effectively deprive the officer (and the prosecutor) of that evidence. (Good!)
Beware of the “Cooperation” Factor
Many people who have been arrested recall the officer telling them: “If you work with us, we can make things easier for you.” But the officer has absolutely no authority to make things “easier” for you once he or she sends the report to the prosecutor’s office. Any “perks” you get for cooperating with the police (cup of coffee? cigarette?) end at the police station door.
Always Ask to Speak With Your Attorney
Police have their own set of rules that they need to obey just like everybody else. The 6th Amendment “right to counsel” says that if a suspect asks to speak with his attorney before or during questioning by the police, the police “must break off questioning immediately” and they may not begin questioning again until the suspect’s attorney is present. This gives you an enormous amount of power over the police. Rather than get angry, frustrated or scared and say something that can only make things worse for you, just politely ask to speak with your attorney. Make it clear that you do not wish to be questioned unless and until your attorney is present. Make that simple request, and the police “must break off questioning immediately.”
Know Your Rights. Exercise Your Rights.
If you have been arrested, taken into custody, or charged with a crime, we hope that you have already exercised your right to remain silent. We also hope that you will exercise your right to speak with an attorney. Your freedom and your future may depend upon it. For more information about the importance of exercising your 4th and 5th Amendment Constitutional Rights in any Kansas City Criminal Investigation, see: