When you get arrested for a DUI or any other traffic offense what exactly are your rights while in the custody of the police? What is the difference between your rights in custody and your rights out of custody? So many people believe they know what their rights are until they get into a situation where they lose those rights and then everything becomes much more confusing. It is in your best interest to know what your rights are in and out of custody, this way you can protect yourself before your legal counsel gets involved.
Rights in Custody: The Law
According to the DUI Benchbook, a person in custody has at least those rights enumerated by statute, including:
1) The right to have no statement obtained from him by any unlawful means;
2) The right to humane treatment, including food, shelter and necessary medical treatment.
3) The right to communicate with an attorney of his choice and a family member;
4) The right to make a reasonable number of telephone calls;
5) The right to communicate with a public defender; and
6) The right to meet with legal counsel alone and in a private place as many times and for whatever period of time as is reasonable.
Police officers must allow you to speak to an attorney right away. Failure to do so may result in monetary punishment as well as punishment within their department. It is in your best interest to not say or admit to anything and just ask for a lawyer as soon as you possibly can. That way your rights are preserved and your attorney can take the necessary steps to aid you in your defense without having to worry about previous statements made to officers.
You have the right to speak to an attorney even before you are formally charged. You will have the ability to speak to a public defender. If you can not afford private defense than this public defender will be able to make an initial determination of indigence. If the public defender determines the defendant is indigent (meaning without money) than a public defender will be assigned to your case at no cost to you.
While in custody your most important right is the Fifth Amendment, your right against self-incrimination. Use this to your advantage. Too many times have we seen clients that try to talk themselves out of trouble and end up doing the exact opposite. Exercise your Fifth Amendment right to remain silent. It could save your life in the end.
Call an attorney right away if you get arrested. Do not speak to law enforcement, they are not out to protect your rights and will say almost anything to get you to talk. Call an attorney if you think your rights were violated while in police custody for a traffic offense.
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By Shannon Lynch