Denver DUI lawyers from the Law Offices of Steven J. Pisani, LLC see multiple cases of DUI charges against people under age 21 every month. One reason for this is Colorado’s strict zero-tolerance policy on underage drinking and driving.
In Denver and throughout Colorado, the maximum Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) someone under 21 can have when driving is 0.02%, which is much lower than the legal limit for people over 21, which is 0.08%. While it’s obvious that it is illegal for anyone under 21 to drink and drive, it’s also illegal for underage people to purchase, possess, transport, buy, attempt to buy, or drink alcohol.
Not only is drinking and driving illegal, but it’s also extremely dangerous. Alcohol-related accidents are a common cause of death in Denver, and hundreds of teens die each year because of alcohol poisoning.
Underage drinking and driving are very common charges in Denver and throughout the state. Due to how serious the state takes this crime, it also has serious consequences. Anyone under 21 with a BAC of 0.02% to 0.05% caught drinking and driving can face charges.
Minors arrested for Underage Drinking and Driving in Denver may also face DWAI charges if they have a BAC of more than 0.05% and a DUI if their BAC is 0.08% or higher. With this conviction, the penalties are a one-year license revocation for a first offense and may carry other consequences.
Anyone under 21 must understand the consequences they may face if they are arrested and convicted of UDD in Denver. A breakdown of the charges and all the potential penalties are found here.
The consequences of a conviction include:
Since this is a traffic infraction and not a criminal charge, minors can request a probationary license called a “red license” after 30 days. They must keep this for the next two months, and the suspension or revocation is required to last for three months total. It’s at the discretion of the DMV to issue this license and is not guaranteed. The minor can only drive to work or school if the license is granted.
The consequences of a conviction include:
The consequences of a conviction include:
With each of these charges, UDD defendants have the right to request a DMV administrative hearing to contest the loss of their license. However, they must win the DMV hearing and criminal case (which are separate) to avoid losing their license. Winning the DMV hearing but still being convicted of UDD will still result in the license revocation.
It’s worth noting that DMV hearings are more challenging to win than criminal cases. In a criminal case, the prosecution has the burden to prove the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. However, the bar is much lower for DMV administrative hearings. Even if it doesn’t seem like a DMV hearing will be successful, requesting one is still a good idea.
If a minor has a BAC over 0.05% and under 0.08%, they can face DWAI charges. The penalties for a first offense misdemeanor conviction include:
If the minor has a BAC of 0.08% or more, they can face DUI per se charges, which is also a misdemeanor. Potential penalties for this charge include:
Due to the seriousness of the charges and potential penalties, it is recommended that you get in touch with an experienced DUI defense attorney if you are facing UDD charges. Our legal team will work to build a defense for your case. Some of the potential defenses that can be used include:
Using the defense that the minor was driving safely and not impaired is impossible. This is because the state of Colorado has a zero-tolerance policy for underage drinking cases. This means that a UDD is a strict liability offense. UDD laws in Colorado prohibit anyone who is underage from driving with almost any alcohol in their system. This is true even if the alcohol was caused by using mouthwash or eating something made with alcohol.
If you are charged with Underage Drinking and Driving in Denver or anywhere in the state, it’s important to contact our Denver DUI lawyers immediately. At the Law Offices of Steven J. Pisani, LLC, we are here to help with your charge and build a solid defense for your case. Thanks to our years of experience in the field, we will provide you with the aggressive legal defense in Denver you need and help you at both your DMV hearing and criminal trial.
The first step is to call our offices and schedule an appointment. We will use our experience and resources to help you beat the charge you are facing.
Steps to Take if You Are Arrested for a DUI in Colorado
If you have been charged with a misdemeanor, you may be tempted to represent yourself in court. After all, the penalties for a misdemeanor are typically not as severe as those for a felony, and you may feel confident that you can explain your side of the story to the judge.
However, there are several good reasons why you should consider hiring a defense attorney. First of all, misdemeanors can still result in jail time, and an experienced attorney will know how to argue for leniency on your behalf. Secondly, a conviction will go on your criminal record, which can make it difficult to find a job or housing in the future. Finally, an attorney can help ensure your rights are protected throughout the legal process.
If you are facing misdemeanor charges in Colorado, don’t try to go it alone. You can cushion the impact of your charges by getting the best defense attorneys in Colorado to represent you in court.
In the United States, criminal offenses are classified as felonies or misdemeanors. Felonies are major crimes that attract severe penalties such as lengthy jail terms or even death sentences, while misdemeanors may attract lower punishment.
Most states have a one-year jail term limit for misdemeanors. As a result, you may be inclined to believe that misdemeanors do not affect your record. However, having a minor charge on your criminal record might have serious consequences.
In Colorado, your jail term will vary based on the intensity of your crime. According to Colorado law, there are different classes of misdemeanors, and the judge will pass sentences based on the guidelines of the misdemeanor.
The most serious type of misdemeanor in Colorado is a Class 1 misdemeanor. These include property theft, unlawful sexual contact, indecent exposure, and criminal mischief. The average jail term that you may get for this crime is 6 to 24 months, depending on the circumstances surrounding your case. However, if you assault any health professional or a first responder, your jail term may be higher, ranging from 24 to 48 months.
If you are accused of a class 1 misdemeanor, getting the most experienced defense attorney on your case is your best bet. This way, you stand a chance of getting a lower sentence.
Invasion of privacy, criminal trespass, and criminal tampering are some of Colorado’s more common class 2 misdemeanors. If found guilty of any of these charges, you may be sentenced to a minimum of three months and a maximum of 364 days in jail.
These are the least serious crimes that are considered misdemeanors in Colorado. They include harassment, prostitution, disorderly conduct, and firework offenses. If you are accused of such a misdemeanor, your punishment may range from a $50 fine to a $750 fine. You may also get a jail term of six to twelve months. The upside to such a crime is that you can have it expunged from your record.
In every state, some misdemeanors may not fully fit into the classes defined. They, therefore, fall into the “unclassified category.” For instance, gambling and some unique traffic offenses may not fall into the same category as other misdemeanors. In cases where the law points out a crime as a misdemeanor but does not give the guidelines on the jail term, the judge can sentence you to up to 364 days.
You are probably weighing your options to see whether hiring a defense attorney is worth the extra buck you will have to pay. Well, it sure is. Having a lawyer on your side has numerous advantages. Here are just a few examples:
Regardless of the allegations you face, you have the right to plead innocent and defend yourself. While it is feasible to represent yourself in court, hiring a lawyer will secure the best possible outcome because your defense counsel is well-versed in the law. They can examine any problem and devise a solution that protects your rights. If you’re in doubt, you can always consult them and find the best way forward.
If you are a first-time offender, you are most likely concerned about the fate of your criminal record. You don’t want the misdemeanor on your record to tarnish your reputation. Having defense attorneys represent you in court can assist you in avoiding such charges. Your lawyer can have your charges dropped or even erased from your record.
Your punishment may differ based on the severity of your crime and the classification of your misdemeanor. However, if you plead guilty, having a great defense attorney will lessen your sentence or the punishment the judge imposes on you. A skilled attorney will know how to negotiate a favorable sentence with the judge.
When you are charged with a misdemeanor, the world does not come to a halt. There may be occasions when you must attend an essential work meeting or be present for your loved ones. This is where your lawyer comes in.
Your attorney can appear in court on your behalf if you have a legitimate reason to be absent. This is especially useful if you are unable to attend court. For example, if you are very ill and unable to appear in court, having your attorney accompany you would be ideal.
The state has the legal right to provide you with a defense attorney for your case. While this may be less expensive than employing your own defense attorneys, it may not be the best solution to your problem.
State defenders frequently work with a large number of criminals, making it difficult to focus on your case and give it the attention it deserves. On the other hand, private defense attorneys will devote their whole attention to your case. Depending on your agreement and hourly charges, you may have enough time to discuss your case with your private defense attorneys and devise a way out of the mess you are in.
Whether it is your first or seventh time being arrested, you are bound to freak out. Sadly, most people get into more trouble due to irresponsible behavior during an arrest. So, what should you do if you are arrested for a misdemeanor?
The first tip you should always have in mind any time a police officer approaches you is never to resist arrest. In most states, that crime will attract additional penalties to your misdemeanor. It gets even worse if you violently assault the arresting police officer.
Remain calm during the entire period of your arrest and respectfully ask why they are arresting you. You have a right to know why the police are arresting you.
The next thing you should do is request an attorney. With all the tension surrounding your arrest, you need a voice of reason to help you figure out your next steps. And who better to do the job than your defense attorney?
During an arrest, one of your most important rights is the right to legal representation. You should be allowed to call your attorney after an arrest.
Another thing you should do is keep silent during the entire arrest period. One of the things that your arresting police officer should inform you is that you “have the right to remain silent since anything that you say may be used against you in a court of law.” Sometimes the officer may ask questions that may incriminate you in the long run. Even when the questions seem innocent and harmless, do not engage with the officers until you speak to your defense attorney.
Most defense attorneys advise that clients should not speak to the police without their legal representative.
Things may happen so fast during your arrest that some of them escape your notice. However, it will pay to remember everything that happens. In cases where your rights were violated, you may have a slight chance of getting a lighter sentence or getting the charges dropped altogether.
So try your best to remember every word the officer said and every action they made during your arrest. Narrate all that to your defense attorney as soon as you can.
You might have heard stories of people getting outrageous sentences for minor misdemeanors. Without legal representation, you may worsen your situation and incriminate yourself when you take the stand. Fortunately, you do not have to go through your trial alone.
Contact the Law Offices of Steven J. Pisani, LLC, and let us fight for you. Our defense attorneys are the best in Colorado and have the best training and experience to get you through any charges and come out with a favorable outcome. Whether you are innocent or guilty, we are here to help. We believe in second chances, and we will help you convince the judge and jury as well. Reach us today and start building your defense.
In Colorado, charges of domestic violence are frequent, and even when they are made in the heat of the moment without any threats of violence, these claims cannot be refuted either on the spot or in court. When domestic abuse is reported to the police in Colorado, the prosecutor and law enforcement are solely responsible for handling the case.
The most frequently asked questions concerning domestic violence accusations in Colorado are addressed in this handbook. It is highly advised that you seek the assistance of criminal defense attorneys like those at Steven J. Pisani, LLC if you or a loved one is facing a domestic violence accusation and related criminal charges in Colorado.
Domestic violence is defined under the Colorado Revised Statute as an act or threat of violence against a person with whom the actor is or has been in a close relationship. Along with physical assault, domestic violence may also involve verbal or emotional abuse. The definition of domestic violence in Colorado is very inclusive.
For instance, intimate partners do not need to live together or be married in order to file a domestic abuse case. Spouses, ex-spouses, domestic partners, children, boyfriends, girlfriends, and roommates all qualify as domestic or intimate relationships.
Physical, mental, and verbal abuse as well as sexual assault all fall under the category of domestic violence. Any other offense committed against a person or their property that is used to force, control, punish, frighten, or take revenge against a current or past intimate partner also qualifies as domestic violence.
Domestic abuse is not treated as a distinct crime from the initial violent incident. If a person is found guilty of a crime and the court determines that domestic violence was a factor in the crime, the court will sentence the defendant for the charge while simultaneously requiring that he or she complete a program for treating domestic violence and undergo a treatment evaluation.
If the court feels that an assessment would help it decide on a suitable punishment, it may also order that a guilty defendant be assessed before being sentenced. A person condemned to jail for a crime involving domestic violence is not required to finish a treatment program.
When convicted of a new domestic violence charge that would normally be a misdemeanor, a defendant who has three prior convictions for offenses involving domestic violence is subject to harsher punishments. The prosecutor may ask the court to label the defendant a habitual perpetrator of domestic violence. In addition, the new violation carries a potential four-year jail sentence and is penalized as a Class Five felony rather than a misdemeanor. This violation can also result in fines up to $100,000.
The most frequent domestic violence offenses in the state of Colorado (and the majority of the nation) are assault, sexual assault, stalking, abuse of children/minors, harassment, intimidating behavior, abuse of the elderly, inappropriate sexual contact, kidnapping or false imprisonment, and breaking a court-ordered restraining or protection order.
When law enforcement has reason to think that a crime involving domestic abuse occurred, Colorado has a legal policy in place requiring them to make an arrest.
Regrettably, the difficulty of establishing probable cause immediately leads law enforcement officials to initiate an arrest even when no crime has been committed. In Colorado, police look at five factors—intimidation, coercion, control, punishment, and retaliation—to decide if there is probable cause for a domestic violence arrest. Law enforcement officials are required to conduct an arrest if they have even the slightest suspicion that any of these signs are present.
Yes, a protective order is always required in Colorado after a domestic violence charge. The defendant is not allowed to drink alcohol and must stay away from the accuser while the injunction is in effect. In a court of law, disobeying a protection order (also known as CRS 18-6-803.5) is a class 1 misdemeanor. A first-time offender faces up to 364 days in prison and a $1,000 fine.
A civil protection order can be issued by any municipal, county, district, juvenile, or probate court to stop domestic violence. A defendant may be prohibited by protective orders from injuring, threatening, or interacting in any way with the protected person or individuals. Any further orders, such as excluding the defendant from the family home or granting temporary custody of small children, may be made by the court in order to safeguard the public.
Under an additional category of restraining orders known as “extreme risk protection orders,” Colorado law also requires gun owners who face a high danger of gun violence to give up their weapons.
Yes. In Colorado, cases of domestic abuse are handled quickly. This implies that the offender takes an initial plea during the first court hearing and that the police write out a police report the same day as the arrest. It is common for several weeks to pass between the arrest and the arraignment in non-domestic violence cases.
Fast-tracking domestic violence cases aims to protect victims from abusive or violent behavior as quickly as feasible while also getting perpetrators treatment.
No. Certainly not straight away. Police have reason to suspect that purported victims who retract their claims of intimate partner violence. They presume that victims have hidden agendas, such as pressure from the defendant’s family to retract their account or a desire for the defendant to be released from custody so they may support their family financially. Additionally, despite the victim’s denials, prosecutors could have enough proof that domestic abuse took place. For instance, it’s possible that the claimed domestic violence event was recorded on camera.
Domestic abuse cases are treated severely by the courts. Only when the prosecution swears under oath that there is insufficient evidence to establish guilt beyond a reasonable doubt will a court throw out a domestic violence case. Therefore, prosecutors may decide to abandon the case before trial for lack of evidence if the victim persists in retracting and the only proof of domestic abuse is the victim’s first complaint.
Domestic abuse charges are one of the most frequent situations we handle at the Law Offices of Steven J. Pisani, LLC. Colorado police arrive at the location as soon as a roommate, family member, or romantic partner dials 911.
Police arrive, separate the participants, and collect statements while searching for tangible evidence. Then, recordings and evidence are offered as evidence. Police sometimes prosecute the incorrect individual or make a mistaken arrest because they seldom witness the domestic disturbance taking place and are instead left with conflicting testimonies.
The criminal defense lawyers at Law Offices of Steven J. Pisani, LLC understand how complicated and messy domestic violence accusations can be.
That’s why we offer excellent and experienced criminal defense in domestic violence cases in the Colorado court system. Schedule a consultation with us today by calling 303-635-6768 to learn more about how we can help you with your domestic violence case.
How was our guide to common Colorado domestic violence law questions? Tell us your thoughts in the comments. If you’ve been accused of domestic violence in Colorado, our talented criminal defense lawyers at Law Offices of Steven J. Pisani, LLC are here to help. Get in touch with our team today.
Our criminal defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Steven J. Pisani, LLC believe everyone deserves to feel safe in their homes. However, when someone tries to break in or if there is an intruder, do you have the right to defend yourself, your family, and your home? This is a good question and one we answer here.
If you are in a situation where you are facing criminal charges and need assistance, our attorneys at the Law Offices of Steven J. Pisani are ready to help. Contact us today to learn more about your legal options and our services.
Keep reading to learn more about the “Make My Day” Law, how it can protect you, and all the details you need to understand.
The state of Colorado believes that homeowners have the right to feel safe in their homes and protect their property and family if threatened. The “Make My Day Law” grants homeowners immunity if they respond accordingly when threatened by a home invasion and burglary. In some situations, this law may be the only thing that prevents you from going to jail.
The “Make My Day” law in Colorado was established in 1985. Under this law, homeowners have immunity from any prosecution if they shoot or kill someone breaking into their home if certain conditions are present.
According to the law, the dwelling’s occupant is considered justified to use any level of physical force, even deadly physical force, against someone who has entered their dwelling unlawfully if the following circumstances apply:
According to the Duty of Retreat doctrine, you can only use deadly force as a last resort. Even in cases of self-defense, if you can avoid the risk of death or harm by taking some other action, by running away, this is what you should do. While this is true, there was a ruling that stated you are not bound to run away or retreat before using deadly force if it is reasonable based on your circumstances.
If an intruder is unarmed, the law still applies. It does not matter if the person who comes into your dwelling uninvited has a gun or another weapon or not. If you think they will commit a crime against you, someone in your house, or your property, and you believe they could cause bodily harm, you have the right to protect yourself using any means. You have immunity in these situations from being prosecuted.
This means that you can use a sword, baseball bat, shotgun, pistol, knife, or any other item you have to help defend yourself.
Remember, though; not all states grant residents this right. If you travel outside of Colorado, be sure you know your rights when it comes to using deadly force against an intruder.
The Colorado law allows those not in their home to kill someone in cases of self-defense or to defend others if they believe non-deadly force will not be adequate to stop the threat. Also, one of the following elements must exist in the situation:
If these conditions are not present, then you can only use force that is “reasonably necessary” to fight away an aggressor.
A common misconception about the self-defense law in Colorado, and the “Make My Day” law specifically, is that you have the right to shoot anyone who comes onto your property without getting in trouble. This is not the case.
Using any amount of force against someone isn’t something that’s taken lightly, nor does the law justify killing another person without justification to do so. Hurting someone else or taking their life is a burden, no matter the justification. That’s why it is best to avoid this outcome when possible.
For example, if someone comes on your property to steal something out of your vehicle or if they vandalize your property, you don’t have the right to shoot them or use other deadly force. For the situation to be considered legal to shoot someone based on this law, the intruder must be inside your home, and you should suspect that they have or will commit some type of crime and that they will harm you or someone else in your home.
For the “Make My Day” law to apply to your situation, an intruder must be in your dwelling with you and be uninvited. Also, the intruder must be committing a crime along with being inside your home uninvited.
An example of when the law would apply is if an intruder was threatening your spouse or child. In this case, you can reasonably assume the intruder is going to use force, even if it is slight, against someone in your dwelling. This even applies to situations where the intruder threatened someone with a weapon or just their fist.
The entire point of the law is to ensure you can defend yourself when in your home without the risk of being prosecuted. However, it isn’t a blanket right to shoot someone who comes on your property. If there’s someone on your property illegally, but they aren’t inside your home, the immunity offered by the “Make My Day” law doesn’t apply to the situation. In this case, you will be held to Colorado’s self-defense law.
Even if you are inside your home, you don’t have the right to shoot someone who has broken in and actively stolen something if they are not threatening someone in the dwelling with physical harm.
If you are in public, the laws are unique. This means that the law doesn’t apply in all situations. While you can defend yourself in public, the situation is regulated based on laws other than the “Make My Day” law.
While Colorado doesn’t impose a duty to retreat, it’s best to avoid violence when you can. If violence happens, it means someone will likely get hurt. Someone else may get arrested and even charged with a criminal offense. When you avoid a possibly violent situation or de-escalate the situation, you are doing what is smart and minimizing the possibility that you will suffer an injury, that you or your loved one will be injured, or that you will be arrested.
Understanding your rights based on the “Make My Day” law is important. This will help you avoid using unreasonable force and being charged with a crime. If you are facing criminal charges, our criminal defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Steven J. Pisani, LLC are ready to help.
We have handled hundreds of criminal cases and will work to gather evidence to help you build a defense for your situation. Our goal is to help you reach the most agreeable outcome possible for your situation.
Contact our legal team to discuss your criminal charges and ensure you know your rights and options. Being informed will help you handle any type of criminal charges.
What Steps to Take When Falsely Accused of Assault?
DUI attorneys at the Law Offices of Steven J. Pisani, LLC understand how serious these charges are and their impact on your life and future. Because of the impact of this charge, you must take steps to avoid a conviction. Our legal team will help with your situation and work to build a strong defense to help you achieve the best possible outcome for your case.
Being pulled over is stressful. If you don’t know what you did or why you are being pulled over, don’t offer information the officer can use. Instead, let them state the reason for the stop. Remember, police must have probable cause to stop your vehicle.
This includes tangible infractions such as swerving, failing to stop at a red light, a broken windshield, and similar things. However, once the stop is made, they can question your whereabouts and even request a field sobriety test if they believe you were drinking.
Your first instinct may be to refuse the requested field sobriety test. This is especially the case if you have not been drinking. However, it is often in your best interest to comply with the officers.
Keep reading for more information on what you should do if you are pulled over and suspected of DUI in Colorado.
If you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, complying with the requests made by police officers may not be easy. For example, they may request that you tell them your name and birthdate. They may also request your license and registration. These are all things you need to give to the officer without hesitating.
While you don’t want to incriminate yourself, it is possible for you to be compliant without answering the questions the officer asks. It is possible to stay silent and comply with the officer’s requests.
You may have heard that you should refuse the breathalyzer test when pulled over and suspected of DUI. Even if you have overindulged in alcohol and know you will fail, refusing this test may be a bad idea. There are a few reasons for this:
It’s really up to you if you decide to take the breathalyzer test. There are potential penalties if you refuse a breathalyzer test. For a first offense, you can have your license revoked for up to 12 months, up to 24 months for a second offense, and up to 36 months for a third offense. Keep in mind that even if you aren’t convicted of the DUI charges, you will likely still lose your license for this amount of time.
If the officer requests that you undergo a field sobriety test, be sure you listen to the instructions and follow them. These tests require you to perform several simple tasks like standing on one leg and walking and turning. Be sure to keep these tips in mind:
The police will ask you questions. They may ask what you have been doing or if you have been drinking. You don’t have to answer these questions. You can stay silent.
You shouldn’t try to “talk your way out” of the arrest either. Usually, the more you talk, the more likely you will say something incriminating. You have the right to remain silent; while you are required to provide the officer with your name, license, and registration, you can stop talking completely at that point.
If you are arrested and charged with DUI, the less you say, the better, since everything can be used against you.
Even if you comply with the breathalyzer testing, you may have your license taken by the officer when you are charged with DUI. In this situation, you must contact the DMV within seven days of your arrest to request a hearing. Upon requesting the hearing, you can get a temporary driving permit from the DMV that’s good for 60 days or until your hearing date.
Most DUI cases are won or lost because of the details about the arrest. You should take some time to write down everything you can remember about the stop. This includes where and when the arrest happened, the conversation you had with the officer, and any other detail you can recall.
Plea deals will be a smart solution for some DUI cases. You need to talk to our DUI attorneys and let us evaluate your case. We can then figure out if this is a smart solution for you.
With a plea bargain, your attorney will work to help you get reduced penalties for your charges. This also lets you know the outcome of your case. Going to a jury trial is unpredictable, even if you believe your case is solid. Accepting a plea deal will usually help you save money and time since you don’t have to worry about going through a jury trial.
While this is true, several factors will determine if a plea deal makes sense for your situation. It’s best to let your attorney investigate the situation and evidence the prosecution has. At this point, they can let you know if you should accept a plea deal or go to trial.
Many attorneys encourage their clients to accept a plea offer, simply because there’s no way for sure to know the outcome if you go to trial. While this is true, you have the right to move forward and have a trial if that is what you decide. Our legal team can help you decide what option is right for your situation.
Many DUI cases in Colorado are charged as traffic misdemeanors. When facing these charges, can move forward with a trial. Bench trials are dedicated by a judge. Sometimes, this option may be best for your DUI case. It’s best to talk to our DUI attorneys to know if this is the case for you.
If you choose not to accept a plea agreement, the judge or jury will determine the outcome of your case based on the evidence produced by your attorney and the prosecuting attorney. If your verdict is not guilty, your case is over unless an appeal is filed. Your case will proceed to the sentencing phase for a guilty verdict.
Being arrested for DUI is a serious charge. You should not take it lightly since the consequences of these charges are serious and can impact you now and in the future. Our legal team at the Law Offices of Steven J. Pisani, LLC understands Colorado DUI law.
We can help you build a case and defend your rights and freedom. You can count on our attorneys to give you the aggressive representation you need and deserve to help you beat your criminal charges. While there are no guarantees in these situations, we are here to help. Contact us today so we can review the charges you are facing.
Denver Criminal Defense Lawyer Explains: Denver’s Drug Laws
Ever been pulled over by the police? If so, you’re probably familiar with the feeling of anxiety and uncertainty that comes with it. What are your legal rights when pulled over? Do you have to answer the officer’s questions? Can you refuse a search? What happens if you get arrested?
Even the most law-abiding drivers can find themselves in a situation where a police officer pulls them over. While you may not be familiar with criminal law, it’s important to know your rights when interacting with law enforcement.
In this blog post, we will discuss the legal rights that you have when pulled over by a police officer. We will also provide some tips on how to handle yourself during a traffic stop. So, whether you’ve been pulled over before or are just preparing for the possibility, read on for helpful information.
If you have any specific questions about your own situation, be sure to consult a criminal defense attorney. For a free consultation, please contact us at (303) 529-2825.
Listed below are some of the rights that a police officer is obligated to uphold if you or a loved one are ever stopped.
You may notice a police car trailing you on the highway or any other unsafe place to stop. If that ever happens, do not pull over just yet. Slow down to show the officer that you are obliging and drive until you get to a safe place for you and the officer.
An ideal stopping place would be away from oncoming traffic. If it is nighttime, be sure to find the nearest well-lit point. Once you have stopped your car, please do not attempt to leave it until the officer orders you out of your vehicle.
Remember to use your flasher to indicate your intention to stop. Otherwise, the officer might think you’re trying to be elusive.
You have a right to ask the officer why they pulled you over. A law enforcement officer has to have probable cause to pull you over. For instance, were you speeding, or was there a problem with your tail lights? The law requires the officer to explain your fault to you for whatever reason.
You’ve seen it in the movies: The police arrest a suspect and, before taking them into custody, read them their Miranda rights. But what do these rights actually mean?
Before arresting you or taking you into custody, a police officer should give you the “Miranda warning.” This warning summarizes your rights during an arrest. The officer should inform you of your right to contact an attorney and that the state can offer one if you cannot afford legal representation. Finally, they must tell you that whatever you say or do can be used against you in court. In general, your Miranda rights protect you from self-incrimination.
If an officer fails to inform you of your Miranda rights, notify your criminal law attorney immediately since their failure to inform you of your legal rights may tip the scales in your favor.
The law also demands that you verbally acknowledge that you understand your legal rights during an arrest. If you or your loved one do not speak English, the police officer arresting you must find a translator.
You would be surprised by the number of people who made their case worse by speaking during an arrest. That is why any criminal defense lawyer will advise you to remain silent whenever a police officer pulls you over or arrests you.
One of the most fundamental elements of your Miranda rights is your right to remain silent during an arrest. However, some states require you to give the officer any identification details they may need, such as your name or license number.
You also have a right to decline an unwarranted search from the police officer politely. This right also protects your belongings and car. However, if the officer has reason to suspect you of a crime, then this right may be overruled, and the officer will proceed to search your belongings.
If you have any visible weapons or drugs, that may be a reason for a further search. In some instances, the officer may use a trained police dog to sniff for drugs. If the dog discovers drugs in your belongings, this might be used to justify a search.
If you do not want to, you have the right to refuse a field sobriety test. However, you should know that refusing a sobriety test may have its disadvantages. Your refusal to take a sobriety test may negatively affect your license. It may also attract fines in the long run.
You may be asking what the big deal is with sobriety tests. First of all, you may fail a test even though you are entirely sober because most tests are not as accurate as they should be. Also, most law enforcement personnel lack the expertise necessary to conduct effective field sobriety testing.
And, if you’re under the influence of alcohol, do you really want to add to the evidence against you by taking the test? The best option is always to exercise your legal right, turn down the test, and contact a lawyer to discuss your options.
Now that you know your legal rights when pulled over, here are some of the key things you should do so that you do not lose them. How you interact with the police will go a long way in determining whether you will be arrested or released. Here are some of the things that you need to do.
It is easy to freak out when you hear the siren or see a police car tailing you through your side mirror. However, you should try your best to calm your nerves. In most cases, your interaction with the police officer may escalate if you are tense. Calmly answer the questions the officer may ask and politely stand for your rights if you need to. Being rude to the officer may only land you in further trouble.
Contrary to what you might have read or heard on social media, you do not have the right to remain in the car once a law enforcement officer orders you to get out.
Remaining in your car after an officer has ordered you out may be seen as disrespectful and often be confused with resistance to arrest.
Be vigilant in everything that the police officer does. From the time they start following you to the time they either arrest or release you. This way, you will be able to narrate everything to your lawyer. If the police officer violates your rights, you will need to describe everything they did in court.
When the police officer is approaching you, chances are that they are also slightly nervous since they do not know your intentions. For all they know, you might be an armed criminal bent on escaping arrest. It pays to keep your hands where they can see them, preferably on your steering wheel. Do not make any sudden movements.
Avoid reaching into your pockets or under your car seats (even to get your license out) without notifying the police officer. Do not grab your safety belt, as this may give the police officer the impression that you have not been wearing it.
Even as you focus on the right things to do when pulled over, here are some things you ought not to do. Doing them will either legally implicate you or worsen the situation that you are already in.
Resisting arrest is a crime in most states. The law requires you to cooperate with law enforcement officers if they have reason to suspect you. They may arrest and take you into custody before filing charges against you.
While your first instinct may be to make a run for it, it is never a wise idea to do so. Resisting arrest will only worsen your situation and land you in further trouble. Cooperate with the officer, and once in custody, request to contact your lawyer.
One of the worst mistakes you can make when pulled over by a police officer is becoming violent. Assaulting a police officer is a federal crime that could land you in prison or have you paying hefty fines.
Keep your temper in check. No matter what the police officer does, please do not attempt to hit them. The court may sometimes interpret your hostility as proof of guilt. Be as gentle as you can.
Whatever happens, never admit fault when pulled over. As we mentioned, whatever you say to the policeman may be used against you when proving your guilt. If the officer asks whether you know what you did wrong, politely decline and let them know you do not.
Listen as they explain your mistake to you, but don’t admit to it without consulting your lawyer first.
The Law Offices of Steven J. Pisani, LLC offers you a haven for any criminal case you are charged with. We have the best criminal law attorneys who will represent you. Whether you are accused of driving under the influence or resisting arrest, we have all it takes to defend you and ensure a favorable outcome in your court case.
We know that everyone has legal rights despite the offenses that they commit. We are always there to ensure that the legal rights of any of our clients are fully met. Contact us today and let us build your defense team.