The media firestorm this week has been blazing with news of every detail of Justin Bieber’s DUI arrest in Miami (my own backyard) this week. But, what I haven’t heard yet is why Justin Bieber and many other celebrities along with most of my clients don’t know their legal rights when they come into contact with law enforcement or when they have been arrested.
Learn them, know them and use them because this could make or break your criminal case. Basically, the rules are simple. Here we go.
When a police officer asks you any questions you have the absolute right to refuse to answer. This applies to any question. But, some questions should be obvious – like: “have you had anything to drink or have you taken any drugs?” Do not lie and deny it. Simply, say, “I’m sorry Officer, I can’t answer any questions without speaking to my lawyer.”
Next, this brings us to the fact that anyone who has been arrested or in jeopardy of being arrested but not cuffed yet, has the right to speak to their attorney. Many times the Police will even tell the person being arrested that they have the right to an attorney and still people waive this important right and give a statement to the police without an attorney. Don’t worry if you don’t have an attorney or you don’t know an attorney – just say you want one before doing anything.
Third is the right to refuse to be searched, to have your car search or your house searched, or your dorm room searched, etc. Sometimes the police will have a legitimate warrant or legal grounds to do a search and they will do it anyway. But, if they are ASKING to search you, your pockets, your bag, or an area in your control like your car, you have the absolute right to say, “NO.” Its that simple.
Lastly, with reference to sobriety tests, breath tests, urine tests, blood tests or anything else the Police ask you to perform or do for them – you have the right to refuse to any of them. You should know this right and when, where and how to exercise it before you make the important decision whether you are going to provide the Police with a test or sample.
This brings me back to Justin Bieber who must have dozens of advisors and lawyers working for him but apparently no one has ever told him what to do when confronted by law enforcement. Here, if Justin had invoked these rights there wouldn’t be any confession about underaged drinking, smoking marijuana or illegally using prescription medication. In addition, he could have refused to perform the field sobriety exercises instead of failing them. He also could have refused to take a breath test which shows that he was in fact drinking and he could have refused to provide a urine sample which will be tested to show which drugs were in his system. Do you see how it was Justin Bieber himself who provided all the evidence necessary to get himself charged and possibly convicted.
Don’t follow in Bieber’s footsteps, instead know your rights.