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Why you need a lawyer present when questioned by police

It is easy to fall on the wrong side of the law. Twenty-eight people learned that the hard way when the police arrested them for various minor infractions during St. Louis' Mardi Gras celebration. Mardi Gras in St. Louis is the second biggest celebration for the holiday in the country only behind New Orleans.

Regardless of why the police arrested you, it is critical to remain aware of your rights. You do not want to inadvertently make a mistake that could send you to jail. The police may ask you some questions while you are in custody, and it is vital you do not say anything unless you have an attorney there to assist you. 

Violation of Miranda rights

Before asking you any questions, the police will typically inform you of your Miranda rights. This occurs when they tell you that you do not have to speak without an attorney present, and if you do, the prosecution could use your words against you in court.

You need to be aware of this because police will generally ask you questions when they believe you are a suspect in a crime. Something you say that seems innocuous could actually serve as evidence in court. You could inadvertently provide a confession. In the event the officers did not read you your Miranda rights, then a lawyer may be able to suppress your testimony, so it cannot come up in court. 

Right to remain silent

After the arrest, the police will take you to the station. If they ask you anything before your attorney arrives, then you can say you wish to remain silent. This is not an admission of guilt. You simply want legal assistance before saying anything potentially self-incriminating. Your lawyer will tell you how you should phrase certain things, so your words do not come back to haunt you. The authorities cannot threaten to punish you or arrest you in the first place if you do not answer any questions. 

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