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What rights do you have in police custody?

If you have been arrested on criminal charges, you may have serious concerns regarding how to handle yourself, whether or not to be cooperative and when to demand a lawyer. After all, if the officers like you and find you to be totally cooperative, wouldn't that work in your favor more than ostensibly shutting them out and letting them get aggressive in their quest for a confession?

It is important to understand the specific rights you have when you are being placed under arrest. You are surely aware of certain requirements arresting officers must follow when placing a person under arrest. But what are these requirements, how do they apply to you and what happens if these rights were not given and the arrest was not in keeping with legal protocol?

Once you have been placed in police custody and are under arrest, law enforcement must review the rights that you have when initially entering into an investigation. This obligation to review does not go into effect until you are in police custody, so any information you provide prior to your arrest cannot be thrown out because you were not yet read your rights. These rights are:

  • Your Fifth Amendment right to not answer questions and to not talk.
  • Your right to obtain an attorney's counsel prior to discussing anything regarding  your case with the police and during any questioning.
  • Your right to an attorney prior to answering questions, even if you cannot afford to hire one. If this is the case, you will be appointed an attorney by the court.
  • If you do talk to police without an attorney, you have the right to change your mind and cease to discuss the case until you have an attorney to counsel you.

If you are placed in police custody, you may be very wise to keep quiet until you have an attorney present to provide valuable counsel. A Louisiana attorney who is familiar with criminal proceedings can offer invaluable guidance during your arrest and subsequent court appointments.

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