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Secrets of the Texas Criminal Justice System and Your Rights
Being arrested for a drug crime can be a frightening experience. Whether or not you are innocent, you will likely worry about your job, your reputation, and your future. Nobody wants to be taken away in handcuffs. If you are arrested for a drug offense in Lubbock, there are two things you should do and several things you should not do.
Things to Avoid
If you are arrested for delivery or possession of a controlled substance, or for any other drug crime, avoid taking actions that will make your situation worse than it already is. Initially, that means you should not flee, struggle with the arresting officer, or otherwise resist arrest. Violent behavior or attempts to run will only lead to more criminal charges and they might be used in your drug prosecution as evidence of your guilt. “After all,” the prosecutor will tell the jury, “only a guilty person would run away or fight the police.” The police usually respond to violence or flight with aggression, so resisting arrest could lead to pain and injuries. It will also make reasonable bail less likely since you will be viewed as a flight risk.
Do not lie to the police about your identity or anything else. If you lie to the police, you can be charged with a crime. The police are allowed to lie to you but you cannot lie to them. That isn’t fair but it is how the criminal justice system works. Instead of lying, you should say nothing.
After you are booked into jail, avoid talking to other inmates about the crime you are accused of committing. Jails are full of snitches. If they know anything about your charges, they can use that information to make a better deal in their own case by pretending you confessed to the crime. They cannot invent a confession or admission if they know nothing about the crime you are accused of committing.
First Steps to Take
After you are arrested, the police will probably tell you that you have the right to remain silent. They are required to give you that warning if they want to question you while you are in custody. Remember that your right to remain silent exists whether or not the police tell you about it. It is one of the most valuable rights that can be exercised by a person who is accused of a crime. Use it.
Too many people talk their way into a criminal conviction by thinking that the police will not arrest them if they just explain their situation. That almost never happens. More often, people make statements that a prosecutor will later use against them. The statements might be incriminating or they might seem to be false. Even if you say something you believe to be true, it might turn out that you are mistaken, and the prosecution will make you look like a liar because you gave a false statement to the police.
Do not volunteer any information to the police when you are arrested. Do not answer their questions about your suspected involvement in the crime. Wait to do your talking until you have a chance to talk to a lawyer.
The police may want to make sure they are arresting the right person. If they ask you to identify yourself, tell them your name. That is the last question you should answer that is asked by the arresting officer, by a police detective, or by any other law enforcement officer prior to your booking. In response to any other question, respond politely but firmly that you will not answer questions without having a lawyer present.
When you are booked into the jail, a booking officer will ask you questions while filling out a booking information form. Most of those questions (such as your height and weight and identifying tattoos) are safe for you to answer. You may not want to reveal your address if there are drugs or other evidence of a crime at that location and if the police did not arrest you there. You should answer questions about medicines you are taking, especially if you might need those medicines while you are being held in custody, but you should not answer any questions that might link you to illicit drug use. If you think you need drug treatment or might need help withdrawing from a drug, tell that to your lawyer, not to the jailer.
Importance of Contacting a Lawyer
The rule that “you get one phone call” is a Hollywood rule, not a real rule. You will probably get to make as many telephone calls as you need, although you may need to wait until the booking process is completed. In some jails, you can only make collect calls. If you have a lawyer, call that lawyer. If you do not have a lawyer, contact your family and have them find you a lawyer.
An arrest for a drug crime is a serious matter that can have lasting consequences. You need to find an attorney who has significant experience handling drug cases and who will give you the benefit of that experience. The sooner you have a lawyer working for you, the sooner you and your lawyer can begin to make strategic decisions about the defense of your case. Sometimes it is necessary to begin a prompt investigation of facts and witnesses. Delay might harm your ability to prepare an adequate defense. If you have been arrested for a drug crime, you need legal assistance immediately.