You Have The Right to Remain Silent
If you have been arrested in California, you need legal assistance immediately. While you are not legally obligated to hire a criminal defense lawyer, it is nearly impossible to know the law as well as a professional attorney does. Perhaps you have been arrested many times before and you are extremely familiar with the California criminal justice system. Your experience will still only be very limited and, for most people, an arrest is a very uncommon experience. An experienced lawyer may have guided hundreds or even thousands of clients through the system and helped many of them avoid conviction. When conviction is inevitable, a lawyer may also know how to get charges reduced. Furthermore, an attorney knows the Constitution and knows your rights. Many people who get arrested give up hope, but the more you know about your rights and the benefits a lawyer can provide, the more hopeful you can be knowing that there are options.
After being arrested and taken into custody for interrogation, your Miranda rights must be read to you. If an officer stops you for simple questioning, for suspected DUI for instance, they do not need to read your rights to you. You also do not have to answer all of their questions. If you are arrested and then the officer asks you questions, this can be considered interrogation. Your rights must be read to you if you are interrogated but you still do not have to answer the questions because, as part of your Miranda rights, you have the right to remain silent and your choice to be silent cannot be reason enough to convict you.
Protecting Your Rights
In addition to remaining silent, you have the right to an attorney. We advise you to state your name and, perhaps, your address and submit identification but to say nothing else. You are also legally obligated to submit certain physical evidence to determine if a crime has been committed. The most common example is a breathalyzer or other test to determine Blood Alcohol after a traffic stop. You must submit. Refusing to take the test can result in harsh punishment. But even when giving the requested evidence, the only thing you should say after an arrest is the bare minimum information. You should also assert that you want an attorney.
The police can question you without a lawyer present, but you do not have to answer. Many people who are arrested try to talk their way out of the trouble; 9 times out of 10, this makes their legal challenges more difficult. You have a right to remain silent and a right to an attorney. Assert both of these rights from the moment you are arrested.
Remaining silent and asking for an attorney is not the same as resisting arrest. There is no need to be rude or combative with officers. In fact, that is always a mistake. But remember that you will not talk your way out of a legal challenge but you may talk your way into a conviction. Whatever you say to the police can be used later against you. No matter how reasonable or thoughtful you believe your argument may be, prosecutors are skilled at taking your words and using them against you. Do not give them the opportunity.