You Do Have Rights

If you have been arrested or are likely to be arrested in the future, there are important facts you need to know about the criminal justice system and your rights. Many people, primarily as a result of watching television programs, have a misconception of the law and function of the criminal justice system. What you see on TV is not reality.

First and most importantly, each criminal case is different. Just like people, each person's background is different, and the individual facts and circumstances of a particular arrest may give rise to unique legal defense. If you have already retained a lawyer, always listen to and follow the advice of that attorney. Also, keep in mind that since everyone's situation is different, actual legal advice can never be given until the facts are fully discussed in confidence.

It has been my observation that the average person really doesn't know his or her legal rights. Television shows often grossly distort and exaggerate reality. Although at the time of an arrest an officer may sometimes read you "rights" from a Miranda card, or a judge or public defender over a video screen may advise a person of some of their rights, it is important to understand that these "rights" usually include only a minimal portion of one's actual rights. It is possible to waive or give up valuable, important legal rights and defenses before, during, and after an arrest. Since most people don't know their legal rights, the sooner representation by competent counsel is obtained, the lesser the likelihood of waiving or giving up valuable legal protections.

In most criminal cases, time really is of the essence. There are many important decisions to make. Since these decisions may change the course of not only the case, but also a person's life, the more information you have, the better advised and the more informed your decision will be.