Five Things to Remember if You’re Pulled Over by Police

Being pulled over by the police is always a stressful event, even if you don’t believe you’ve done anything wrong. You know, at the very least, that you’re likely going to have an intimidating conversation, may wind up with a ticket, and are very likely to be late to wherever you’re trying to go. However, if you keep these five things in mind, you can minimize the harm a police stop can do.

Try to stay calm.

Remaining calm at a police stop isn’t just a good idea from a mental health perspective. It will also help you to maintain perspective and stop from acting rashly. Moreover, the more nervous you act, the more it may incentivize a police officer to escalate the stop to a search or seizure, so the less jittery you can seem, the better your odds of walking away with minimal consequences.

Don’t feel obligated to answer police questions.

While the 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination (the “right to remain silent”) doesn’t apply if you’re not in police custody, you’re still not legally obligated to answer a police officer’s questions. Thus, if you believe an answer to a police officer’s question is more likely to cause harm than good, you can simply say you don’t want to answer their question. At that point, the officer may need to choose between escalating or letting you go, but at the very least you’re not providing additional evidence that may be used against you.

You may not be able to stop a police search.

Under normal circumstances, the police cannot search a person’s property without a warrant backed by probable cause. However, under the so-called “automobile exception” to the 4th Amendment, a police officer can conduct a search of a motor vehicle without a warrant, so long as they have probable cause to believe the vehicle contains evidence of a crime. This means that stopping a search of your car may be nearly impossible, so don’t get too upset if the police decide to start rooting through your car at a traffic stop.

You can refuse a breathalyzer, at a price.

Technically speaking, you don’t need to submit to a breathalyzer test at a traffic stop if you don’t want to. However, by law, anyone who refuses a breathalyzer test at a traffic stop automatically forfeits their driver’s license. So, if you don’t want to take the breathalyzer, you can refuse, but you may not be able to legally drive again for at least a year.

You can ask to call a lawyer.

Just like in any other situation where you find yourself confronted by the police and at risk of arrest, you can call your lawyer to help you at a traffic stop, if you can get in contact with a lawyer in a reasonable time period. That said, the police aren’t obligated to wait around for your attorney to show up, nor do they have an obligation to wait while you search for a lawyer to call. Thus, if you can’t get your attorney on the line right away, the next place you’ll likely have a chance to talk to them is at the police station.

If you are placed under arrest, remember to exercise your right to an attorney and get legal representation as soon as possible. A Suffolk County criminal defense lawyer, who is experienced in handling criminal cases of all sorts, can advise you of your legal rights and will fight for your best interests in court. If you or your loved one has been arrested, contact the Central Islip criminal defense attorneys at McGuire, Peláez and Bennett at (631) 348-1702.

A Confession is Not the End of Your Case

It’s one thing to know that you have a right to an attorney and the right to remain silent when questioned by police. It’s another thing entirely to exercise those rights when you’re in police custody and facing interrogation by professional officers or detectives. People don’t make the best decisions when they’re under that kind of stress, and it’s surprisingly easy for police to elicit a confession under such circumstances, even from people who are innocent. Fortunately, however, a confession alone isn’t necessarily the end of your case. Continue reading “A Confession is Not the End of Your Case”

Common Tenant Rights

When renting an apartment it is important to know your rights as a tenant.  If you are renting in New York State, there are several rights that you have the second the lease is signed.  While these rights can vary slightly between cities, the general premise runs through each rental situation.  While a lease agreement may lead to more responsibilities of the landlord, there are three important rights that are in every lease agreement. Continue reading “Common Tenant Rights”

Sweeping Criminal Justice Reforms to Take Place Starting January 1st

A package of reforms was signed into law in April that are set to completely change the criminal justice environment in New York State. The reforms will take effect starting January 1st, 2020, and both police and prosecutors are preparing the changes in procedure necessary to accommodate the changes. The reforms themselves are a major victory for criminal justice advocates, who have aimed for these reforms for years.

Some of the most significant changes were those made to rules related to bail, which has eliminated bail for misdemeanor offenses, except in cases of sex crimes or violating orders of protection. It also eliminated bail for most non-violent felonies, except for witness tampering, conspiracy to commit murder, domestic violence cases, crimes against children, sex crimes and terrorism-related offenses. It was even eliminated for most Class A nonviolent drug felonies, and some burglary and robbery-related felonies. This will mean that most people accused of a crime will be able to defend themselves from outside of a jail cell, allowing them to maintain their regular lives while the cases hang over their heads.

Another important set of reforms was made to the discovery rules, the laws that govern when, how and what kind of evidence the prosecution and defense must turn over to one another. The new discovery rules will make it so the prosecution must turn over all the evidence they have within 15 days after arraignment, with some exceptions. The defense will also get the names and contact information of anyone with information relevant to a case, names and assignment of all police officers involved, and every witness statement, even if the prosecution never intends to call them to the stand.

Prosecutors, meanwhile, will no longer be able to claim police evidence delays as a reason for not turning over evidence, and must turn over all evidence they intend to use at trial 15 days before the trial. Defense attorneys must provide all the evidence they intend to use at trial to the prosecution within 30 days of the trial. Prosecutors can still get a restraining order to avoid disclosing certain sensitive information to the defense, if they can convince the judge there is sufficient cause to do so.

If you or someone you know has been arrested for a criminal offense, you will need legal counsel to help you preserve your rights and get you the relief you deserve. A New York criminal defense lawyer, who is experienced in handling criminal cases of all sorts, can advise you of your legal rights and will fight for your best interests in court. If you or your loved one has been arrested, contact the Suffolk County criminal defense attorneys at McGuire, Peláez and Bennett at (631) 348-1702.

What is the Miranda Warning?

If you have ever watched a law enforcement-based program on TV, like Law and Order or NCIS, chances are you’ve heard of the Miranda warning, and Miranda rights. You may even be able to recite them from memory. But why is it so important for police officers to tell suspects their Miranda rights, and what happens if an arresting officer fails to do so? Continue reading “What is the Miranda Warning?”

Explaining the NY Marijuana Decriminalization Law

When a New York State law decriminalizing marijuana went into effect in August, many people wondered what it would mean for ordinary people. There was also concern as to what decriminalization would mean for people arrested for marijuana violations previously. Well, here’s a basic rundown of what you need to know about this new law, and its implications for the general public. Continue reading “Explaining the NY Marijuana Decriminalization Law”

How Are Red-Light Cameras Legal?

Everyone has seen, or at least heard, of red-light cameras, which are an increasingly common part of traffic law enforcement. There’s even a decent chance that you’ve been caught by a red-light camera yourself and had to pay a fine as a result. But why are red-light cameras so common, and how are they legal in the first place? Continue reading “How Are Red-Light Cameras Legal?”

Lost Wages Following a Car Accident

If you were injured in a car accident and had to miss work as a result, you may be able to recover for any losses sustained. Under New York State law, a person may be able to recover for lost income and any other missed income opportunities as a result. Continue reading “Lost Wages Following a Car Accident”

Five Things to Watch Out for Before You Close On Real Estate

Buying a new property is always a big deal. Whether you’re looking for a new home, or you want a place for your business, getting the right piece of real estate can be essential to your future success and happiness. But before you close on that nice new dream house or that ideal spot at a busy intersection, there are a few things you’ll want to check for, just to be sure. Continue reading “Five Things to Watch Out for Before You Close On Real Estate”

Collateral Consequences of Criminal Convictions

It doesn’t take a genius to know that if you are convicted of a crime, or plead to having committed a crime, you’ll be punished with jail or prison time, probation, fines, or some combination of the above. However, there’s more to crime and punishment than just that, and if you’re not careful, you can find yourself suffering from the collateral consequences of your punishment without realizing it. Continue reading “Collateral Consequences of Criminal Convictions”