What happens when you are arrested or detained?
If you have been arrested or stopped by the police, you have the right to remain silent, but that doesn't mean the police have to read you your rights immediately.
The police must advise you of your rights before they ask you QUESTIONS. This means that anything you say before the police question you can and will be used against you in court. This means that you should not say anything to the police at anytime, other than giving them identifying information.
This is a version of what the police will say to you:
An investigation has been conducted in which it is suspected that criminal activity has occurred. YOU ARE NOT UNDER ARREST, but before we ask you questions, you must understand your constitutional rights.
You have the right to remain silent
Anything you say can and will be used against you in court
You have the right to an attorney
If you cannot afford an attorney one will be provided for you.
You have the right not to answer questions without an attorney present.
If you chose to waive your rights, you have the right to stop talking to us at anytime.
You will be asked to answer the following questions by writing an answer next to the question and then signing.
I had only been going to school for about a month. And I never met anyone. Most of the people were white, and the classes were so big it was easy to get lost in them. I hated being there. I felt so alone. The white people were not very nice, and the black people had managed to separate themselves from each other with fraternities and sororities. I didn't belong anywhere.
One day, while in class someone used the 'N' WORD. I don't remember what the context was, but it was a white person, he wasn't talking to me but it hurt just the same. I went home that day and told my father I wasn't going back. I couldn't do it. I wasn't strong enough and I just would rather get a job that didn't require a degree. I was crying, because I didn't want to disappoint him, but I just couldn't take it. My mom wasn't home; she was at work. She worked as a banquet waitress. She was amazon like, tall, strong, regal in some ways. (She still is really) Daddy told me he wanted to show me something, got his car keys and off we went. I didn't know where we were going and we rode in silence. I didn't ask questions and he didn't volunteer any information. He drove thinking, pensive, I could tell he was angry. I thought he was angry with me because I didn't want to go to shool. We ended up at my moms job.
We went in through the employees entrance. My mother was in her uniform, holding this huge silver tray up that had plates of food on it, clearly they were about to serve. And there was this man, shorter than her, screaming at her, we watched for what seemed like a long time but it was probably a minute or two. I could literally see her getting smaller, her shoulders had slumped and her head hung down. She didn't look regal or amazon anymore. She looked small. Daddy looked at me and said "You have to go back. That is why you have to go back. Because when you are educated you don't have to take that. You won't have to let people shrink you." The next day, I went back to school. I graduated and I never forgot what he said.
I cannot tell you how many jobs I quit that started with the sentence "my father told me" as I packed my things; refusing to be shrunk ever. As a lawyer, judges try to shrink attorneys. They talk down to us from the bench. The bench is high up so that even when you approach the bench you have to look up at them. During a trial I had a judge that was just awful to me. He was rude, nasty, and it was working . . . my posture was bad, my head mostly down and shoulders slumped over. I went home crying almost daily, my husband wasn't getting any sleep because I was having such a hard time. I couldn't deal with it. Then one day during the trial, I decided to wear a pants suit instead of a skirt, it was like I knew I was preparing myself for something, because I never wore pants during trial. The morning started and the judge came out with his normal condescending attitude, my client had even complained to me that I had not been fighting for him. The judge suddenly became background noise to me as I remembered my fathers' words "when you have an education, you don't have to let people shrink you." I started listening to the judge again and I heard him say "and what you said in that motion was just ridiculous." I answered "What's ridiculous is the way this court has been treating me." The judge looked up at me "What did you say?" "What's ridiculous is the way this court has been treating me." The next word out of his mouth was "marshall" I knew what that meant so I took off my jewelry and the laces off my shoes and put them on the defense table. Defiant, letting him know that being stepped back didn't scare me. The marshall found me a cell. I sat still for a moment, not afraid, and not angry anymore, I was just still. It was then that I heard a soft whisper "Good Girl!" I felt a soft wind brush against my cheek and I smiled. I was strong, proud and happy; and my father was proud of me. . .
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
When you are told you have the right to remain silent, people are referring to the 5th Amendment of the Constitution. You have the Right to Remain Silent, means no one can force you to talk to the police.
They can trick you:
"If you just tell us what happened, you can go home"
They can sound sympathetic:
"We just want to know what happened, and we can't help you, unless you tell us the truth"
They can lie to you:
"We have three witnesses that identified you"
But they cannot force you. This means it is up to you to just remain silent.
You have the right to defend yourself IF you feel you are in danger of being harmed. This can be really tricky. It does not mean that if someone hits you and starts walking away you can hit them back. If a person hits you and then starts walking or running away you are obviously no longer in danger. People think they have the right to "hit you back" but you don't have the right to hit back if you are no longer in danger. You have the right to call the police and file a complaint. I know this sounds "unfair" because its normal to want to hit someone who has hit you, but you cannot hit back if you are no longer in danger. So, if someone jumps into your rolled down the window and starts hitting you, and won't stop, you have the right to hit back but if he then starts running away, you do not have the right to chase him down to hit him back or shoot him. If you have time to turn the thought around in your mind "can I shoot him? Is it legal to shoot him?" Then the answer is A RESOUNDING NO.
You can only use as much force as necessary to stop the person from hurting you. In other words, you cannot bring a gun to a fistfight. If someone hits you with their hands, you do not have the right to chase him down pull out a gun and shoot him six times. If the other person is armed with a dangerous weapon then you may use a dangerous weapon to defend yourself. But the simple fact that you got into a fight doesn't give you the right to go get a weapon and kill someone.
No one can get into your head about whether you believe you are in danger or not. Only you know how afraid you are, but the totality of the circumstances will determine if your fear for your life was reasonable. "You're too much of a pussy to shoot me." Is perhaps annoying and maybe even a dare, but it's not something that will cause you to believe you are in danger.
You cannot run into the house and come back and shoot somebody. You cannot be in safety, like maybe in your car, and the person you were fighting with leaves and then get out of your car to put yourself in harm's way, once the fight is over.
If I'm in my car and someone punches me through the window and then walks away laughing, I do not have the right to get out of my car and hunt him down and shoot. What I would do is roll up the window call for help or follow slowly behind. If I don't know if he has a weapon but I want to make sure the person who just attacked me is caught I would NEVER get out of my car. Since I don't have a weapon, I actually would be driving away from the scene.
People calling you names, saying things like "what you gonna do?" But walking away should not put you in fear of being harmed. The fact that you are in a car and able to leave the situation without being harmed further is an indication that you are no longer in a position to say you are in fear of your life.
Self-defense is for people who are in imminent harm. That is, they are about to be harmed immediately. Not that you lost the fight, got embarrassed, got in your feelings, but that you are seconds away from being harmed.
So, don't think that because Darren Wilson got away using the "scary black man" defense, that you too can shoot somebody who got in a fight with you and is now walking away. (I am in no way suggesting that is what happened, but I am saying, even assuming that what he said is what happened he was no longer in danger) This is Not self-defense. Shooting a person who has walked away from a fight is at least second-degree murder. I will talk about the difference in charges when killing someone next time. But don't think that the following someone because you want to know why he is in your neighborhood, or going after someone because he "hit [me] first" is self-defense. It's not.
Self-defense is very simple if someone is hitting you and won't stop then you have the right to hit back. If the person won't stop hitting you and you have a weapon and you think "he's not going to stop hitting me" then you can use enough force to stop that person from hitting you. If he is hitting you or pulls out a knife or a brick and starts trying to hit you and you're thinking "he's not going to stop attacking me unless I'm dead" then you may use deadly force.
Women tend to think they can keep hitting a man and he cannot touch her. That is no longer the case. I saw a tape of a girl beating on a boy in school and she wouldn't stop, but he refused to hit her back, so she kept pounding on him. To his credit, he never did hit her, he covered his head to avoid serious injury. But the reality is that if he had hit her back, it likely would have been in self-defense because it was clear she was not going to stop hitting him until someone stopped taping and got her off of him.
This also applies to defense of others. So, in the case of the boy in high school who would not hit this girl back, if someone had hit her to stop her from hitting him, that would be in defense of someone else, but the person couldn't go get a gun and shoot her. You can only use as much force necessary to stop the attack.
Should you find yourself in a position that you had to defend yourself, and the police are called, the rules still apply you don't answer questions, you give identifying information and you ask for a lawyer. Don't answer questions.