D.R. Horn, P.A. is a private law firm dedicated to providing skilled and aggressive defense in criminal cases in Little Rock, Arkansas and the surrounding area.

Why You Should Never Waive or Give Up Your Constitutional Rights

On a daily basis, throughout America, citizens waive or give up constitutional protections that were put in place long ago for the very purpose of protecting citizens. These important constitutional protections include the Fifth Amendment right to remain silent, the Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures and the Sixth Amendment right to have an attorney present before you are questioned. Sometimes people are tricked or intimidated by law enforcement to waive their rights, but that fact will probably not matter at a at the trial level because the court would likely rule that you knowingly gave up your rights, even though you were tricked or scared. You might prevail at the Court of Appeals or the Supreme Court but that will be long after your conviction. Consider the following scenario:

A police office observes a car with several people in it driving on a rural road in the early morning hours around 1:00 or 2:00 a.m. Initially he has no reason at all to believe that any criminal activity is afoot, but he is never the less suspicious and possibly bored so he “looks” for a reason to stop the car. Lets say the driver crosses the center line or the fog line on the road. Even if it was one time, the officer now has his reason to stop the driver. Lets say after the stop, the driver has all of his documents in order, his license, registration, and insurance. The officer returns the documents to the driver, he does not smell alcohol or drugs or even observe anything about the driver that would indicate he is impaired, other than he is “a little nervous.” The officer hands the documents back and may or may not issue a traffic citation, but then he decides to ask if he can search the vehicle. Mind you, he has no reason whatsoever that there may be illegal contraband in the car. The driver may allow the officer to search or he may also say no. If he says no, the officer might say something like I will call a drug dog if you don’t allow the search and if the dog alerts I will search anyway. If a dog is called, it will almost certainly alert whether anything is present or not. If a dog alerts and the officer searches and finds nothing he will just allow you to leave. But the fact is that he has violated your 4th amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures and he will do it again and again. Never under any circumstances should you consent to a search of your person or your vehicle. You should also never give up your right to remain silent. You should be aware of this because you are not always informed of this right and if you make some spontaneous incriminating remark while you are on your way to the police station, the office will use it against you later. You have a right to say nothing at all. You can tell the officer basic information such as your name and address but beyond that you should say nothing. Invoke your right to stay silent and always say you want to see an attorney before you answer any questions. The best solution is never consent to a search, always remain silent, and invoke your right to have an attorney present before you say anything.

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