Serious Felony FAQ's
Just because you have been arrested for a serious felony crime does not mean you forfeit all of your constitutional rights. The following are some of the common questions the firm receives about these rights.
Q: Do I have to say anything if I am arrested for a serious felony?
A: Under the United States Constitution, you never have to say anything when you have been arrested, regardless of the seriousness of the crime. It is essential to clearly and immediately ask for an attorney and refuse to answer any law enforcement questions until your attorney is present. Once you have asserted your right to remain silent without an attorney, the police cannot later try to question you unless you waive your right at that point. Even if you agreed to answer some questions, you can stop and assert your right to remain silent without an attorney at any time, and law enforcement must honor this unless you reinitiate talks with the police.
Q: How do I protect my property if the police have a search warrant?
A: Under every United States citizen's Fourth Amendment right preventing unlawful searches, law enforcement generally must have a warrant to search your home or your body, including your clothes. However, many exceptions exist that allow law enforcement to perform searches that might otherwise be illegal.
If you are being searched as, or right after, you are being arrested, the police are only supposed to search your body and the area immediately around your control to the extent that it will prevent escape, destruction of evidence, or injury to the officers.
Q: Can I deny a search of my vehicle?
A: Normally, you have a reasonable expectation of privacy for places like your home and on your body. However, your expectation of privacy is reduced for your car. If the police believe that illegal items (such as drugs or weapons) are in your car, the United States Supreme Court has ruled that law enforcement can search your vehicle without a warrant, but only in the places where the item they are looking for is reasonable to find. In other words, the police cannot search your glove compartment if they are looking for a stolen television set. Law enforcement can also search any container within your car that might contain what they are looking for. This includes a bag or purse.
Seek Experienced Legal Representation
Situations involving potentially illegal searches and police interrogations are usually complex and fact-specific. The law regarding searches and seizures is highly complicated, and the United States Supreme Court regularly addresses this issue. If you have been accused of criminal wrongdoing, or if you believe law enforcement may have violated your Fourth Amendment right, it is important to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney. Contact the Law Offices of Thomas T. Overton by email or at 615-838-1166.