About once a week our Criminal team fields a call from someone who was arrested and wants us to “get the case dismissed” because no one “read (them) me my rights.” Just like criminal cases are not investigated, tried, and decided in one hour like on T.V.; you do not always need to have your “rights” read to you. In fact, the vast majority of police contact does not require an officer to read you any warnings at all. If the police arrest you AND THEN ask questions about a crime you are suspected of, only then do they need to “Mirandize” you. It is perfectly normal to be arrested and never hear anything about your rights.
The “rights” we are talking about refer to your “Miranda Rights.” Miranda v. Arizona from 1966 discusses your right to NOT incriminate yourself in any criminal proceeding. The right to be free from self-incrimination is bestowed upon all of us via the 5th Amendment. If you have ever seen any crime drama, you may know the warning by heart:
“You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you. Do you understand the rights I have just read to you? With these rights in mind, do you wish to speak to me?”
If you refer to my last Criminal blog post, you will know the answer to that last question is NO.
It is extremely rare for a criminal defendant to help themselves by talking to authorities without consulting an attorney. You may, in fact, be innocent, but you are already a suspect, and there is nothing you can say at that point to make them remove the handcuffs. Therefore, say nothing, and ask to speak with an attorney before answering any substantive questions.
Law enforcement might try a variety of tactics to get you to talk (i.e. “You must be guilty if you are not talking”, “If you tell me, I can help you”, etc.) You DO have to answer basic questions of who you are, age, address, etc, but if you are at all in doubt about the situation, say nothing beyond that. Be respectful but protect yourself until you can enlist the help of an attorney. The truth may “set you free”, and a good attorney can make sure your facts get to the right people. Call our experienced Criminal Law team today.
Most people stopped by a police officer are convinced they HAVE to answer every question put to them. In addition, most of us want to cooperate with Law Enforcement personnel, and we should. Some may even believe that if we are cooperative, they will “give us a break”. Simply put, it does not work that way in an OUI context.
Our men and women in blue do our communities a great service, but they also have a job to do. Some of the tools they use to keep us safe can be confusing, this is not an accident!
In the initial moments of a stop one of the first questions you may be asked is, “On a scale of 1-10, how impaired would you say you are”. DO NOT ANSWER THAT QUESTION!!!
Here’s why: Many people think about a scale of 1-10 and they think the lower the number, the better. In the context of an OUI this is only half true. Police officers know that, in Maine, before a case goes to a jury, the judge will give them a set of instructions as to the law, evidence, and procedure.
A common jury instruction given in OUI cases in Maine says in part: “State law does not prohibit drinking and driving; the question is whether someone was under the influence. A person is under the influence if that person’s senses- their physical or mental faculties-are impaired, however slightly, or to any extent by the alcohol that person had to drink. The State does not need to prove that the person was falling down drunk, the State need only prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the person’s physical or mental faculties were impaired however slightly or to any extent by the alcohol that person had to drink.”
Can you now see why ANY answer other than 0 –(ZERO) can be interpreted as an admission that what you drank (or smoked, or injected) has affected you, even a little bit? You may think you did well by saying “3”, when in fact you have literally admitted you are impaired just a bit. Guess what, that is all it takes! The ONLY safe answer here is 0.
We are clearly NOT advocating for people to lie to Law Enforcement, we just want people to know that they have a right to avoid self-incriminating statements. The question seems innocent enough, and it even lets you choose a number! Just remember this question is used daily by prosecutors to point out that the defendant themselves felt impaired, even to a slight degree.
First, DO NOT drive drunk, second, know your rights at all times. The Criminal Defense Team at Ainsworth, Thelin & Raftice can help you minimize the damage a criminal charge can have on your future, call us today.
It used to be that getting a divorce was a social “failure”. However, the simple fact is that there are now more children in divorced or separated homes than there are children in “intact” family units. They very defintion of a “Family” is now a dynamic and evolving concept in Maine and throughout the country.
While you may feel stigmatized by getting divorced or splitting up a domestic partnership, it does not have to define your life going forward. You really do have a choice. Studies make it abundantly clear that the separation of parents is NOT what harms children, CONFLICT is what does the most damage.
Kids First Center is one of the great resources available in Portland, South Portand and all throughout Maine. Kids First devotes its time and efforts to reducing the conflict that surround children during emotional times. Chris Leddy is a facilitator with the organization and spends many hours teaching classes such as “The First Step” and “ICOPE”.
A recent Facebook Live segment, hosted by Todd Gutner of New Center Maine, highlights the important work this organization does through all of Maine. Please watch and share the full video below to help reach familes that might benefit from their services.
Many times the attitude you bring to a dispute will decide the outcome, and that means emotion is the driving force. Fear is a powerful engine, but a terrible navigator.
I am sure that line got your attention! Good! At ATR, we have been advising clients for years that what you communicate can have consequences. To get that point across succinctly, I tell clients not to text, e mail, or post anything they would not be comfortable reading out loud in open court, to a judge. I have heard other attorneys tell their clients that they should be comfortable reading any of their communications to their children. The point is, our private thoughts and opinions can and often do have negative consequences. We all have strong emotions about our personal lives and those we have relationships with and that is natural. A recent Maine Law Court opinion (State v. Heffron) however made it clear that some communication, even a post on your own Facebook page, can be legally interpreted as “contact” and in the context of a Protection From Abuse Order, “contact” can result in arrest, detention, and perhaps conviction.
Social media is as much a part of our everyday lives as our emotions are but mixing the two without being aware of the consequences can literally land you in jail. There are appropriate outlets for the natural, strong emotions that arise out of the relationship dynamics we all face. Now more than ever, people need to think before they “speak” or their freedom may be in jeopardy. Our criminal team can help you navigate the social media landscape after the Heffron decision, and by all means, edit what you post, e mail, or text in the midst of difficult times.