If you are charged with a crime in the State of Utah, it’s always advisable to obtain the services of a knowledgeable and experienced criminal defense lawyer. The earlier that a defense attorney is involved in your case, the better the job that they can do for you. However, the dilemma that most criminal defense attorneys in Utah face is the damage that their clients cause to the case before they are consulted.
For example, a thirty-two year old man is stopped for running a red light in downtown Salt Lake City. When the police approach the vehicle, they detect the smell of an alcoholic beverage. They surmise that the driver has been drinking and ask him to step out of the vehicle. The driver is cooperative and tentatively exits the car. After answering a few routine questions, he agrees to participate in voluntary roadside exercises-which are videotaped. When he’s done the police place him in handcuffs and then ask him to submit to a breath test, to which the driver (now prisoner) agrees. After he is released the next day, he contacts a prominent Salt Lake City DUI attorney and schedules an appointment.
The obvious issue is that the driver-who may or may not have really understood that the exercises were voluntary-agreed to provide additional evidence to the prosecution that will be very difficult to get suppressed. If the driver had refused to participate in the voluntary roadside field sobriety tests he still may have been arrested, but his SLC criminal defense attorney would have a better opportunity of devising a defense that would bring about a favorable result, and if the breath test results are below or near legal limits you may have an opportunity for a reduced charge.
Unfortunately, criminal defense attorneys aren’t usually able to be with their clients at the moment of police contact. Familiarizing yourself with the way that some of the more common criminal investigations are conducted and knowing your rights when it comes to those investigations can be invaluable to your criminal defense. Here are a few tips that may assist in dealing with police officers and their investigations:
- If the police are asking you to do something, chances are they are required by law to ask. For instance, “May I ask you a few questions?” probably means that you don’t have to answer.
- If the police ask you to do something voluntarily, it is probably in the interest of furthering their case, not to help your defense.
- Don’t do things that will result in additional charges. Even if you strongly believe that the police have made a mistake, be polite and remain calm. You or your attorney can file a complaint with the department when everything has settled down.
- Contact a criminal defense attorney at the first opportunity you are allowed. If you are read your Miranda Rights, ask to speak to an attorney before answering any questions.
- Keep in mind that, although you can refuse to submit to a breath test, in Utah the driver risks losing his driver’s license for one year or more due to the Utah Implied Consent Law.
Your attorney will do the best job that he or she can for you, but if you stack the deck against them, it’s you who will suffer in the long run.
Contact attorney David Paul White toll-free at 801-266-4114 to schedule a free initial consultation.