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Don't Be Your Own Worst Enemy<br>by Marc J. Victor

Written by Subject: Criminal Justice System

by Marc J. Victor

I cringe to think how many times clients come into my office to discuss their criminal matter with me only to learn they have done possibly irreparable damage to their case. I have found few people who are aware of their constitutional rights.

Your awareness of some simple concepts may serve you well in the event you or a loved one is the unfortunate subject of a criminal investigation. First of all, always remember, you are not required to talk to the police. There may be occasions where your persuasive oral skills will serve to get you a stern warning instead of a costly ticket; however, talking with the police will rarely benefit you when the investigation is for a crime.

In addition, talking to friends and family about your criminal matter is usually not a good idea either. Although you do not expect a friend or family member to compromise your case, you may put him or her in an unfair position. A prosecutor may summon your family member or friend to the witness stand in a criminal trial and ask questions about your statements. Such a dilemma will force your family member or friend to decide between perjury and possibly hurting your case.

Don't get caught up by the fact that the police officer failed to inform you of your "Miranda Rights." These are your rights to remain silent and to have an attorney present during questioning. So long as you are not under "arrest" the police officer may properly ask you questions without informing you of these rights.

You are never required to consent to a search. If a police officer has a search warrant, you must permit the search. However, if a search warrant has not yet been obtained, you should insist the officer obtain one before you voluntarily allow a search. The fact that you insist upon a search warrant does not mean you have something to hide. Rather, it is a confirmation of the constitutional concept that police do not have the right to arbitrarily conduct searches of your property.

A police officer has no right to detain you unless there exists reasonable suspicion that you committed a crime or traffic violation. However, a police officer is always allowed to initiate a voluntary conversation with you. Sometimes it is unclear whether or not a person is detained. If you are in doubt, you should ask the police officer if you are in fact free to leave.

If you are arrested, Arizona law mandates that you will be brought before a judge within twenty-four hours. This is an important hearing for you. The judge will decide what conditions, if any, must be met before you can be released from jail. You have a right to retain an attorney for this hearing to argue for your release.

Regarding the crime of driving under the influence of alcohol, the best advice is to have a designated driver. However, if you are the subject of a DUI investigation, you must be especially careful and thoughtful about what you say and do. In Arizona, a conviction for DUI guarantees a jail term.

Arizona law does not require you to submit to roadside field sobriety tests. Although these tests may assist you to convince an officer you are not intoxicated, as a general rule, refusing to take the tests is the better
choice. Keep in mind, it is the police officer who subjectively decides whether you passed or failed the tests.

Deciding whether to submit to a blood, breath or urine test is a different matter altogether. If you refuse one of these tests, you will likely lose your driver's license for one year. You should consult an attorney before deciding to refuse or submit to one of these tests. DUI is a complex area of the criminal law. However, like other criminal charges, the decisions you make during your initial contact with a police officer can be the difference between conviction and acquittal.
Marc J. Victor is a practicing criminal defense attorney located in Chandler, Arizona. He can be reached via his website at

6 Comments in Response to

Comment by kend626
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So reading you your rights is just a sham, as they will get the information they need before they arrest you if you talk.

Comment by Powell Gammill
Entered on:
Kend626 asked: But anything you say before you are arrested can still be used against you. Correct?

Absolutely. And worse, by talking to police whatever they said you said in their report is gospel. Even if it is not what you said. Refusing to talk to police without your attorney present cannot be used against you in a court of law. I would strongly recommend watching and reading these above links. $TRONGLY.

Comment by Morpheus
Entered on:

I not a Lawyer however this is what I know when you encounter police: Be Quiet, Don't Talk, Shut Your Mouth, and Shut Up! any questions? call Marc Victor 480-755-7110

Comment by Brock
Entered on:
Do not talk. No matter how good you are, they are always better.

Part I
Part II

Comment by kend626
Entered on:
"So long as you are not under "arrest" the police officer may properly ask you questions without informing you of these rights."

But anything you say before you are arrested can still be used against you. Correct?

Comment by Powell Gammill
Entered on:
Marc has these links on his website that are worth viewing: See also the video information at the bottom of his home page, "In Praise of the Fifth Amendment Right to Not Be a Witness Against Yourself."


Million Dollar Legal Advice... that is, this will save you a million dollars in attorney fees and loss of income if you read and follow this.