William Long Whitesell, L.L.C.

Why legal counsel is important, regardless of the charge

John was driving home from work, when he was pulled over by the police. He couldn’t imagine what the issue was, but when the officers started to question him about where he had been over the weekend and whether he was near the Piggly Wiggly, John became very nervous.

What were they getting at, why were they so interested in what he had done all weekend? In fact, he had been at his father’s working on his roof, but he didn’t want to disclose that to the cops. He didn’t want to tell them anything. How was he supposed to handle the situation?

What John should do

American’s have freedoms and protections, and one of them, conferred by the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, is the right not to incriminate yourself. Nearly everyone has heard the following on T.V., “You have the right to remain silent.”

And silent is exactly how you should stay when law enforcement approaches. Most of us, however, aren’t sure how to implement it. It is hard to say nothing--to have a complete lack of response. After all, any person gets irritated when they ask a question to which they get no reply. So, what's the best thing you can do? Blame your attorney.

Ten little words you should know

It’s always good idea to know the name of a defense attorney you can call. The likelihood is that you will never need it. But in the event you have an experience like John’s the worst thing you can do is provide any information to the officer beyond your name (you are required to provide your real name—providing a false one, which can be tempting when you are scared, but it is illegal.)

Find a defense attorney, remember their name, and when a cop starts asking questions—any kind of questions—politely but firmly reply, “I want my attorney and I will not answer questions.”

Everyone should have an attorney

Having an attorney on speed-dial is just plain prudent. You have rights, but it is also your responsibility to invoke them—it is not up to law enforcement. Memorize the ten words above, and when an officer approaches you, make sure you use them.

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