The recent deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and Eric Garner in New York City have placed police tactics under the media spotlight. It is a sad truth that innocent people die at the hands of police every year in this country. Since 2000, law enforcement officers have killed nearly 600 people in Los Angeles County alone, which amounts to roughly one death per week.1
There is no denying that there are police officers that enjoy the violent aspects of their work, but it is far more common that officers we encounter are just trying to do their job. While no one has yet put forward a good solution to the problem of violent cops, there are some steps you can take to avoid making your dealings with the police more peaceful.
The Police Mindset
The first thing to do is understand the mindset of a police officer. Men and women in law enforcement are trained that every person they approach could be the person that ends their life. Therefore, they are trained to recognize life-threatening movements and verbal threats. If you make a sudden, unprompted move to the pocket on the inside of your jacket or to the waistband of your pants, you could find yourself staring down the barrel of the officer’s gun.
Keep your hands visible, and if you have to make a move to your pocket, tell the officer that you are going to do so. Explain why you need to get into your pocket, and do so slowly.
Politeness and Patience
No one likes to be accused of something they did not do, and it takes a lot of effort to not react angrily when a police officer accuses you of breaking the law. However, once the officer has decided that he or she thinks you have done something wrong, you have little control over the situation except for how you respond.
You do not have to answer the officer’s questions if you are being questioned about your involvement in a criminal matter. Anything you say to the officer can be used against you in court, and the Constitution gives you the right to not incriminate yourself by making any statements. Maintain a polite and patient demeanor, keep a calm and even tone of voice, and when the officer asks for your name and ID, you can turn them over while informing the officer that you refuse to answer any other questions without the presence of your defense attorney.
Do Not Resist Arrest
If the officers decide to arrest you, you must remain calm and patient. Going peacefully is difficult, especially when you do not believe you have done anything wrong. However, it could save you from being the victim of police violence, and also save you the trouble of facing additional charges for resisting arrest.
Being arrested is inconvenient, frustrating, and frightening, but you should allow law enforcement to take you into custody without incident and save your energy for the fight in the courts.
The Importance of Hiring an Experienced Attorney
Informing the officer that you intend to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney puts the officer on notice that you plan on fighting the accusation through the criminal justice system. This has two effects. First, it tells the officer that you are not going to resist being arrested, which tends to lower the intensity of the arrest.
Secondly, the officers will know that their behavior is going to be scrutinized by your attorney, and the slightest misstep by the officers could lead to your release. If he or she truly believes you broke a law, the last thing that he or she wants is to lose the conviction because of a violation of your rights. Telling the officers that you are going to hire an attorney reminds them to remain professional and on their best behavior.
Contact the Criminal Defense Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich
If you or someone you love has been arrested, you should speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. At Wallin & Klarich, our skilled attorneys have been successfully defending clients against all types of charges for over 30 years. We know that facing criminal charges can affect you for the rest of your life, and we are dedicated to working tirelessly on your behalf to provide you with the best defense possible. Contact us today for a free, no obligation phone consultation.
With offices located in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Orange County, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville, there is an experienced Wallin & Klarich criminal defense attorney near where you work or live.
Call us today at (888) 280-6839 for a free phone consultation. We will get through this together.
1. [Charles Davis, “Is Obedience the Only Way to Avoid Police Brutality?” Vice, September 15, 2014, available at http://www.vice.com/read/is-obedience-the-only-way-to-avoid-police-brutality-915.]↩