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What are Your Miranda Rights?

Most people are familiar with the concept of the police having to read someone their rights due to the popularity of crime TV shows and movies. Unfortunately, that is not always the case.  The real issue is whether any statement made is voluntary.  If police provide Miranda warnings to you, your statements are presumed voluntary.

Whether police advise you of your Miranda rights/warnings, you should know that you do have the following rights:

  • Right to remain silent;
  • Anything you say can be used against you in a court of law;
  • Right to consult with an attorney and have that attorney present during questioning by police;
  • Right to have an attorney appointed for you if you cannot afford one;
  • Right to refuse or stop a police interview at any time.

However, if a person is not arrested or otherwise being subject to a custodial interogation, no Miranda warning is required – and if that person is later charged with a crime, whatever they said to the police can be used against them at trial.

Police frequently will try to engage you in conversation over the telephone…NO warnings are needed because you are not arrested or in custody.  You should refuse to answer any question and contact a lawyer immediately when police are trying to obtain statements from you by telephone.

If you have been arrested for a crime in Arizona and need a Phoenix criminal defense attorney, please feel free to contact me.

How to Assert Your Right to Remain Silent

If you are arrested or subject to custodial interogation, you are entitled to certain rights that were given to you by the U.S. Supreme Court in Miranda v. Arizona.  The police should “read you your rights”, or what is also known as giving a Miranda warning, which includes the right to remain silent.

Many times, defendants find it difficult to assert their rights when being questioned by police.  However, it is important that you do your best to retain your right to silence before you have the opportunity to speak with a criminal defense attorney.

If you remain silent, the police can continue to question you.  But that does not mean you have to answer.  After you are given your Miranda warning, you are entitled to stop the questioning by telling the police that you want to speak with an attorney.  If the police continue to question you after you have made it known that you want to talk with a lawyer, they have violated Miranda, and anything that you say to them – or any evidence they may find as a result of what you said – should not be used against you at trial.

If you have been arrested for a crime in Arizona and need a Phoenix criminal defense attorney, please feel free to contact me.

Can You Refuse a Search of Your Car by Police?

Many people who are pulled over by the police for a traffic violation or any other reason wonder if they are allowed to refuse a police officer’s request to conduct a search of their person and their vehicle.

The answer depends on what you were stopped for.  If you were pulled over for a simple traffic violation and the officer issues you a citation – and has no reason to believe that you are engaged in criminal activity or are armed – they cannot search you or your car.

If the police officer does observe suspicious behavior or has reason to suspect you may be armed or dangerous, the law does allow the officer to conduct a “pat down” search of your person and to search the inside of your car.  The officer is also allowed to frisk any bags or objects in the vehicle that may potentially house a weapon.

If you allow a police officer to search you and your car, the search will generally be considered valid, even if there was no solid reason for the officer to search.  If you refuse a search and the officer decides to arrest you for the minor traffic violation, then the officer can conduct a search.

If you have been arrested for a crime in Arizona and need a Phoenix criminal defense attorney, please feel free to contact me.

Which is Best for Your Criminal Case: Private Counsel or Public Defender?

When a criminal defendant is read his or her Miranda rights, they are told that if they cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for them.  This attorney is what is known as a public defender.

In order to qualify for a public defender, a criminal defendant must provide the court with his or her financial information, including a list of assets.  However, even if you qualify for a public defender, the court may still assess you with some court costs if you have an ability to pay.

While there are many excellent public defenders at work today, the reality is that the system is so clogged with defendants that they are forced to carry an extremely heavy caseload, which means your case many not receive the attention you would wish it to receive.

In fact, it is almost certainly in your best interest to have a private criminal defense attorney handling your case.  Private criminal defense attorneys do not have the volume of cases that public defenders are forced to carry, so are much more likely to have both the time and the resources to devote to your case, which can make a significant difference in the final outcome.

If you have been arrested for a crime in Arizona and need a Phoenix criminal defense attorney, please feel free to contact me.

How to Choose an Arizona Criminal Defense Attorney

If you’ve been placed under arrest and are facing criminal charges, you will need an Arizona criminal defense attorney to guide you and defend you at trial, if necessary.  Here are some tips on how to choose an Arizona criminal defense attorney:

Referral – many people turn to those they trust for a referral, so if a member of your family or any of your friends has used a criminal defense attorney in the past, they may be a good resource for you.  Be sure you ask the referral source if they were satisfied with how their attorney handled their case, including keeping them informed, following up in a timely manner and returning phone calls.

Internet search – online lawyer directories like,, and others allow you to search by geography and specialty.  They also include ratings and recommendations that can help you decide.  You can also search the State Bar of Arizona website for attorneys who specialize in criminal defense.

Interview – after you have a few names, call and/or email the attorneys on your list.  Most attorneys offer a free consultation to discuss the details of your case.

Meeting – after choosing an attorney, be sure to meet with them in person as soon as possible to confirm that he or she is the right choice for your criminal case.

If you have been arrested for a crime in Arizona and need a Phoenix criminal defense attorney, please feel free to contact me.

When Police Can Search Without a Warrant

In general, there are four situations when police can search your person, car or home without a warrant:

If you give consent. If the police ask for your permission to conduct a search and you agree, then a warrant is not necessary to conduct a search.  You should never agree to a warrantless search until you have spoken with your criminal defense attorney!

If you have been arrested. If you are placed under arrest, an officer may search your person or the immediate area for any weapons that may potentially be used to harm an officer or for evidence to use against you.  This is known as a search incident to an arrest.  If they have a reasonable suspicion that there is an accomplice to the crime in your home, they may also enter and perform a cursory search.  Any evidence that is in plain view may be confiscated for use against you.

If evidence is in plain view. If an officer finds evidence in your car, home or other property that is in plain view, they do not need a warrant to seize the evidence or contraband.

The emergency exception.  If the police have a reasonable and immediate fear for their own safety or for the safety of someone else, they may conduct a legal search without a warrant.

If you have been arrested for a crime in Arizona that involves the use of a search warrant and need a Phoenix criminal defense attorney, please feel free to contact me.

What to Do If You Are Pulled Over for DUI

If you are pulled over by the police on suspicion of DUI, there are things you should – and should not – do to help beat the charges that may be filed against you, whether you had no drinks, one drink or more than one:

Stay calm.  By panicking and fumbling around for your license and registration, you give the police more support in their probable cause to arrest you.  It’s a good idea to keep your documents handy when you are in the car to avoid this.

Do not answer questions.  Police may ask you if you have been drinking.  The only answer you should give – politely – is, “I have been advised by an attorney not to answer questions like that.”

Refuse a field sobriety or Breathalyzer test. You do not need to take any field sobriety test.  If requested to do so, refuse politely.  The officer can ask you to take any test or test for alcohol. If you refuse the alcohol test, you are subject to the mandatory loss of your driving privileges for one year.  If you accept the test, your driving privileges can be suspended for 90 days if your test results exceed 0.08.  Normally, if it is your first offense, I recommend refusing the field sobriety test, BUT take the alcohol test.  If it is a second offense (or more), then a conviction would result in at least a 1-year revocation.  So, in that case, I would normally recommend refusing all field sobriety and alcohol tests as your driving privileges will likely be invalid for at least one year.

Use passengers as witnesses. Make sure any passengers in the car observe your interaction with the police so they can be used as witnesses if necessary at trial to rebut the police’s account.  If they can record the incident on cell phones that would be even better.

Finally, call an expert in criminal defense law to ensure your rights are protected and that you receive a fair trial, if it comes to that.

If you have been arrested for Arizona DUI and need a Phoenix criminal defense attorney, please feel free to contact me.


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