Glenn W. Magnell
Attorney at Law
Criminal Defense - DWI - DUI - Traffic Law
162 Main Street, Goshen NY 10924 & 151 Continental Rd., Cornwall, NY 12518
Phone: 845-294-0585 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Hudson Valley Counties Served:
Know Your Rights
Most people never think about what they'd do if they were to be arrested or taken into custody for questioning by the police. That's something that only happens to criminals, right? Well, not always. The truth is that the terrifying experience of being arrested or questioned by the police can happen to anyone. A case of mistaken identity, an overly aggressive law enforcement officer, a dispute with another person, even a simple misunderstanding can result in virtually anyone being questioned by the police, arrested and even charged with a crime in a court of law. Should it happen to you, it is important to understand that you have very powerful rights that are guaranteed to you by the United States and New York State Constitutions. These rights are designed to protect your individual liberties and prevent law enforcement authorities from abusing their powers.
What Does Being Arrested Mean?
When a police officer or a private citizen takes you into custody, physically restrains or verbally insists you not leave in order to have you answer for an offense or a crime, you have been arrested. This may mean you will actually be taken into custody or you may be issued an appearance ticket, which requires you to appear before a judge at a specified time. (This is similar to receiving a traffic ticket, though it may involve a more serious offense than a traffic violation). When a police officer makes an arrest without an arrest warrant, the officer must give you a reason for arresting you (unless you were arrested while in the act of committing a crime or were being chased by the police).
If I am Arrested What Rights do I Have?
If you are arrested (with or without an arrest warrant), you have a number of rights that the police must respect:
After you are arrested, you should be brought before a judge at the earliest opportunity where the charges against you will be read to you and you will be asked how you plead to the charges presented. When you appear before any court, you have the following rights:
What is an Arrest Warrant?
An arrest warrant is a document issued by a judge or magistrate authorizing law enforcement authorities to take you into custody in order to answer for a crime you are alleged to have committed.
Generally, if a police officer comes to your home with an arrest warrant for you, he must also have a search warrant (also issued by a judge) if he intends to enter your dwelling through the use of force (any entry without your permission). However, if you refuse to allow a police officer with an arrest warrant into your house and he reasonably believes that you may escape, destroy evidence or that giving you notice will put him at risk, he can legally force his entry without a search warrant.
Can I be Arrested Without an Arrest Warrant?
Yes. A law enforcement officer can arrest you without an arrest warrant, under certain circumstances.
In any of these cases, the officer must tell you why he is arresting you (unless you are attempting to escape or actually in the act of committing a crime). A law enforcement officer can pursue you beyond the limits of his jurisdiction (for example, from one town to another or from one county to another).
Can I be Questioned Without an Arrest Warrant?
Yes. If you are in a public place and a police officer has a reasonable suspicion that you are, have or are about to commit a crime, the law permits the officer to approach you and ask you questions. These questions may include asking for your name, address and the reasons for the activity the officer has observed. You have a right to remain silent and not answer any questions. If the police officer prevents you from 'walking away' or physically takes you into custody:
These rights are collectively known as 'Miranda Rights'. If you are not told of these rights prior to a law enforcement officer questioning you (when you do not feel free to walk away), anything you say cannot be used against you in a court of law. However, if you say something to the officer that is not in response to an attempt to elicit information from you, it probably can be used against you in court.
When is it Legal to Search my Person, my Home or my Car?
In general, before a law enforcement officer can search your person or your home, he needs to possess a legally valid search warrant. Like arrest warrants, search warrants must be issued by a judge or magistrate based upon a finding that probable cause exists to believe that evidence of a crime, proceeds of a crime or contraband will be found. Search warrants must be specific as to what location is to be searched and what item(s) are being searched for. However, there are important exceptions to this general rule which do not require an officer to have a search warrant:
An even larger set of exceptions to the basic requirement for a search warrant exists when a police officer has lawfully stopped your vehicle. Courts have consistently ruled that the 'expectation of privacy' that exists in your home does not exist (to the same extent) in your car. Any items that are 'in plain view' in your vehicle are subject to search by an officer with a reasonable suspicion that illegal activity has taken place or is taking place. In addition, a special set of rules exists with regard to the lawful right of the police to search and seize your person if they suspect that you have been driving while intoxicated. For more information regarding DWI and how you can deal with being charged with driving while intoxicated click here: DWI INFO
Please note: Information on this website is intended to inform, not to advise. No one should attempt to interpret or apply any law without the assistance of an attorney that is familiar with that area of law, the rules of the court involved and the specific facts of each individual case.