Lawyer Dog, Or Why You Must Be Clear In Asserting Your Rights To The Police
In 2017, the Louisiana State Supreme Court heard an appeals case regarding the importance of unambiguously asserting your rights during a police interrogation. The case hinged on whether a criminal defendant had said "lawyer, dawg" or "lawyer dog." According to the trial transcript, the defendant had told the police, "I know that I didn't do it, so why don't you just give me a lawyer dog 'cause this is not what's up."
Most reasonable people with an understanding of American English would assume the defendant had said "dawg," a colloquial term addressing another person, not unlike "man" or "dude." Astonishingly, the court ruled the defendant had not properly invoked his right to counsel. Consequently, the police were within their rights to continue the interrogation.
How can you avoid such a ridiculous situation? A criminal defense attorney will tell you to do these three things:
Keep the Statement Simple
Avoid slang, vernacular, and colloquialisms when invoking your rights. If you want counsel, tell the cops, "I am invoking my constitutional right to counsel and to remain silent. I will not speak with you until I meet with a criminal defense lawyer."
Similar problems can emerge when the police are trying to sucker people into consenting to searches. The cops love to ask if they can come into your home to speak with you because this entitles them to observe your house without a search warrant. If a police officer asks to enter your house, tell them, "No, you may not enter my house."
Get the Cops on the Record
Body cameras with audio recording capabilities are very common. If you have a question about what the police are doing, ask it clearly so the camera can record it. Witnesses might hear it, too.
Suppose a cop is preparing to search your car without a warrant. Ask the police if they have a search warrant so they have to record the answer. Likewise, if they state they don't have or need a warrant, ask them to explain the basis for a warrantless search.
Don't Fight the Police
Even if a cop is operating far outside of accepted legal procedure, they are an armed person with extensive legal rights to beat and shoot people. Keep your voice as calm as you can manage under the circumstances. Refrain from touching the police officers. If possible, try to stay out of their space.
People rarely get the cops to go away by arguing. You'll have your day in court, and you'll have the right to have a criminal defense attorney question the cops on that day, too.
For more information, contact a law firm like William G Mason Attorneys.