Larry P. McDougal
Larry P. McDougal - Attorney at Law
Richmond, Texas
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What to do during an arrest or traffic stop

Any good criminal defense lawyer will tell you that the smartest thing to do during a traffic stop or an arrest is keep your mouth shut. That's because nothing you say will convince the officer not to arrest you.

Instead, what often happens is people say things that are later used against them in their case. This can and does happen even to people who believe that they have done nothing wrong and are completely innocent.

In fact, the most damning evidence in many criminal defense cases came right out of the defendant's own mouth.

Your statement will not be considered in its entirety. That means, the prosecutor can pick out bits and pieces of your statement to use against you and will leave out the parts where you are explaining your innocence.

But it's not as simple as just remaining silent during an arrest. You have to walk the fine line between cooperating with police and not volunteering any information.

Here are some tips from the American Civil Liberties Union on how to do that:

1. Say your wish to remain silent out loud. State: "I wish to exercise my right to remain silent." Some states require you to provide your name to police, but Texas IS NOT one of these states.

2. If you don't wish to have yourself or your property searched, then do not give consent. Officers do have a right to pat you down if they suspect you are carrying a weapon.

3. If you are arrested, ask for a lawyer immediately. Do not give any statements or make any decisions without talking to your lawyer.

4. If you are not arrested, you have the right to calmly leave the scene. You may politely ask the officer if you can leave and then slowly walk away.

5. Stay calm and polite with the officers, and never provide false information. It's far better to say nothing than to lie.

6. Do not resist an arrest, even if you know that it is unfair. You do have a right to know what you are being arrested for.

It's important to remember that Constitutional protections, including the right to remain silent, apply to everyone, even non-citizens.

Although you may be tempted to defend yourself when you are being questioned or arrested, the best way to exercise your rights is by staying quiet.

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