Vern McCray Law Firm P.L.L.C.
413 NE Everett St, Camas, WA 98607

What Are Your Rights When You Are Arrested in Washington State?

Arrests are alarming to anyone. When a law enforcement officer places handcuffs on your wrists, you are in shock. It’s natural to panic and try to explain to the officer that there has been a mistake. Unfortunately, speaking to a law enforcement officer before or after your arrest, can make the situation much worse for you.

If you do not have the ability to take preventative action, understanding how to exercise your Constitutional rights in the face of an arrest, is essential to put yourself in the best position to fight a criminal charge. Before your release from jail, enlist the guidance of an experienced and trusted Clark County criminal defense lawyer who can identify the best legal strategy to keep your future as bright as possible.

It is our firm belief you should have your Vancouver criminal defense lawyer’s phone number memorized. Even after your arrest and prior to a First Appearance, your retained attorney may connect you with a bail bondsman to help expedite your release. We refer our criminal defense clients to Vancouver’s A Plus Bail Bonds

Know Your Constitutional Rights

Most people have heard about “Miranda Rights” (or Miranda warnings) from watching movies or tv. Miranda Rights must be stated by the arresting officer at the time of a person’s arrest to inform a person of the Constitutional protections the person has when they are taken into police custody. It is important to note: what is considered “custody” is fact dependent. Many people do not know how to exercise their rights, or understand how these rights function in criminal proceedings.

There are 4 Miranda Rights:

  1. The Right to Remain Silent
  2. Anything you say can be used can and will be used against you in a court of law
  3. The Right to an Attorney
  4. If you Cannot Afford an Attorney, one will be provided for you.
For purposes of this post, we are discussing Miranda Rights #1: The Right to Remain Silent and #3: The Right to an Attorney, with #2 and #4 encompassed within.

Exercising Your Legal Rights After Your Arrest

For many people, they are in shock and panic when arrested, and are unable to think clearly when read their Miranda rights. When you are arrested, the police then continue with their investigation if not already completed. This includes attempts to talk to you as the subject of their investigation. Even if the officer has informed you of your legal rights, they will try to coax you into answering questions directly after you are placed in handcuffs. The officer can act overly aggressive to scare you into volunteering information. Or the officer may act like your best friend, and may claim to “be on your side” to get you to tell your “side of the story.” Don’t fall for it. You have to express you are exercising your Miranda Rights. Any information you give to that officer, (including statements you make in the police car, at booking, ect.) can be used to build a criminal case against you. This gives the prosecutor reason to charge you with whatever crime fits the evidence that the officer collected.

Right to Remain Silent:

When you are placed in handcuffs and read your rights- you can invoke your Right to Remain Silent this right simply by telling the officer: “I am exercising my right to remain silent.” When you don’t talk while in police custody once arrested, you are not giving the officers the evidence they are hoping to gather. This in turn, limits what evidence the prosecution will have when they make a charging decision and limits what they can use against you in court. By exercising your right to remain silent, you’ll have peace of mind knowing you and your Clark County criminal defense lawyer can get to work preparing your legal defense strategy for the best possible outcome.

Right to an Attorney:

To exercise your Right to Counsel, you also have to expressly state this right.This is as easy as stating, “I will not speak to you without my attorney” or “I am exercising my Right to Counsel” and not state anything further. Washington’s Criminal Court Rules state the right to counsel attaches as soon as feasible, after the defendant is taken into custody, appears before a committing magistrate, or is formally charged, whichever occurs first.” Criminal Court Rule 3.1(b)(1). A person charged with a felony is constitutionally required to have access to counsel, during all “critical stages,” which includes: immediately after an arrest (including DUI arrests).

When you cannot afford to retain a private Clark County criminal defense attorney, you will be appointed public defense. Public defenders are typically competent attorneys with an extremely high number of cases they are appointed on. Unfortunately, these caseloads make it nearly impossible for even the most gifted public defenders to dedicate the time necessary to fully investigate each case, to fully prepare for court appearances, or even ability to communicate with each client prior to trial. Hiring a trusted and experienced local criminal defense attorney can make all the difference in the outcome of your case.

Can You Try to Prevent an Arrest?

If you know you are being accused of a crime in Clark County (i.e. someone made a police report), but you have not been arrested yet, take the opportunity to retain a highly experienced criminal defense attorney– as soon as police involvement becomes known to you. Why? Law enforcement will try to talk to you while you are considered “free to leave” and otherwise not in police custody. They are able to gather evidence that may lead to a criminal charge down the road and they do not have to advise you of your Miranda Rights before they are mandated to. Retaining an experienced and trusted Clark County criminal defense lawyer can impact whether or not the police can gather enough evidence to arrest you in the first place.

Start Protecting Your Future Right Now

Whether you are taking preventative action from being wrongfully accused of a crime, or have been arrested in Camas or Vancouver, your choice in counsel will make a difference in your future. Call The Vern McCray Law Firm, PLLC, today at (360) 834-6262 (office hours) or 360 837-9004 (after-hours) for your free case consultation. Our firm provides the best criminal defense attorneys in Vancouver who will fight hard to protect your rights.

Categories: Your Rights

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