Samuel Goldberg has been a Massachusetts criminal defense attorney for 20 years. Prior to that, he was a New York state prosecutor. He has published various articles regarding the practice of criminal law and frequently provides legal analysis on radio and television, appearing on outlets such as the Fox News Channel, Court TV, MSNBC and The BBC Network. To speak to Sam about a criminal matter call (617) 492 3000.

“WHAT IF I AM ARRESTED OVER THE JULY 4TH WEEKEND?”

Now, I know we are in the middle of a three part posting and I owe you the third part. I will post that third part tomorrow. Today, however, something that should be more urgently on your mind.

It could be a drunk driving charge. It could be an allegation of domestic abuse. It could even be an unexpected accusation of rape.

People generally do not venture out expecting to be making an involuntary stop at the local police department before they return home.

But it happens. Especially on holiday weekends.

So, you’d best think about it. When the criminal justice wheels start turning with you inside them, you just might find it harder to think clearly and come up with a plan.

Attorney Sam’s Take On Holiday Police Encounters

Over the holiday weekend of course, court is not open. Therefore, should you end up in police custody, you may have to stay there until Tuesday comes along.

“Isn’t there something I can do about that? I don’t want to spend the weekend in jail.”

 

Nobody does.  You do not have total control of the situation, but aside from praying for a low bail to post from the police, there are a few things to keep in mind that might aid you in not spending the weekend in custody.

First and foremost, do not “take on” the officer”(s). We have discussed this many times. Police officers and detectives have a certain amount of discretion when it comes to choosing between either issuing a summons to come to court or arresting you.

Showing law enforcement “attitude” is only going to lessen the possibility that you are going to spend the rest of the weekend at home. Further, it will hurt you when Tuesday comes around and you are before a judge at a bail hearing.

When you decide to out-fight, out-argue or out-run law enforcement, you are doing a number of things. First of all, you are demonstrating that you do not feel compelled to follow what the system tells you are the rules you must follow. That’s bad for bail purposes because the entire issue for bail is that you will obey the law and return to court.

By “taking on” the officer(s) you are likely to add more charges to the ones already about to face you. Whether it be “disorderly conduct” (which amounts to being offensive to the officer’s sensibilities), “assault and battery on a police officer” (soon to be a felony) or “resisting arrest”, the more charge you have against you, the worse trouble you are in.

So, you have to “play nice” with the officer(s). In other words, you must be polite, respectful and compliant. Remember, in many cases the officer can choose whether to arrest you then and there or simply give you a summons to come to court Tuesday.

“But, Sam, what if the officer starts asking me a whole lot of questions?”

Good question. If it is simply “pedigree” information, such as identifying who you are, you should politely answer. However, if the questions start getting to what the allegations seem to be, you politely tell the officer that you feel that, since the officer seems to believe you have committed a crime, that you would need to talk to an attorney before you answer.

Please note that this is not the same thing as “Hey, I don’t have to talk to you! I’m never going to talk to a cop!”, “What difference does it make? I’m not doing anything wrong!” or even “Hey, I know my rights, officer. You cannot ask me that.”

Instructing an officer of the law and that he cannot ask you what he has already asked you might sound good to you…it isn’t. The officer is not likely to take legal advice from you. He would just as soon as lock you and your legal advice up for the weekend.

Do you have the right to say some of these things? Sure. But I am assuming you would like to be told of the reality of trying to be locked up…not the legal theories behind criminal procedure.

You also may wish to remember that it may only be you and the police at the particular scene. That means that what happens there is likely to be your word against his/hers.

“So what do I do…just ‘assume the position’?”

You buy time by being polite, cooperative and not questioning the officer’s authority. That does not have to mean giving some kind of confession.

You simply want to do what you can to not be locked up. It will be easier for you to contact an attorney that way.

Either way, before you start making statements or anything else, that is exactly what you want to do. Retain the services of an experienced criminal defense attorney.

Do not play defense attorney yourself.

You will likely neither win or even help your case.

 

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