If you’ve been arrested in Springfield MO or elsewhere in Southwest Missouri, your mind is probably still racing. It can be a traumatic and anxiety-provoking event, but it’s not the end of the world. We’re here to provide some practical tips and sage wisdom from our years as criminal defense attorneys in Springfield MO, in order to help you navigate what to do next.
High-stress situations have been proven to reduce mental performance. Faced with potential jail time or heavy fines, it’s easy to make poor decisions that will have long-lasting effects. It’s this critical moment that you must remember, even though you may have been handcuffed, that does not mean you are guilty.
This short guide will explain exactly what you need to know if you are in the situation we hope you never have to go through, being arrested in Springfield.
Innocent until proven guilty is not just a catchphrase you hear on television, follow these tips to protect your rights and your future.
1. You are Under No Obligation to Speak with the Police
It goes without saying that any communication with the Springfield police should be respectful, and courteous. It should also be concise.
Police have a job to do and one of the aspects of that job is obtaining information after an event. They even receive training, focused on tried and true methods to get information from you. They may use a variety of tactics and strategies in their efforts. Police officers have no duty to tell the truth and will likely tell you anything if they think it will lead you to talk, it’s all fair game.
Even though the police have a job to do, that does not mean you bear any responsibility to assist them. They often make promises that if you confess they’ll speak to the prosecutor. More often than not, that means they’ll tell the prosecutor how guilty you are. And always remember POLICE OFFICERS CAN’T MAKE DEALS, ONLY PROSECUTORS CAN. So if a police officer promises that he can control the charging decision, it’s just not true.
Police are not prosecutors or judges and don’t have the same role as prosecutors and judges.
So, what are you supposed to do if you’ve been arrested in Springfield? You are allowed to invoke your constitutionally protected rights at any time, without providing a reason, and without fear of reprisal. Once you assert your rights, police officers are ethically bound to stop questioning you but if they continue, they’re violating the law.
You’ve likely heard the Miranda rights a million times on TV, but they are worth reading again:
- 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 and 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?
2. Respect and Cooperation go a Long Way
We get it. You’re likely angry, upset, or confused about why you may be under arrest. But despite any feelings of aggression or hostility you might want to take a deep breath and remember that anything you say or do can and will be used against you in a court of law.
Additionally, remember that the ultimate arbiter of your situation is not the police, it’s a court of law. So, the police officer or investigators are not the people you actually need to focus on in order to help yourself.
It may be helpful to think about this situation like a basketball game, with an irate coach pleading his case to the referees. How many times have you seen the referee reply, “You know what, I see your point now, let me go ahead and take back that foul I called.” Can’t say we’ve ever seen that.
By staying calm, cool and collected during or after an arrest, you are making the best of a bad situation and avoiding any additional trouble. Be respectful, but resolute in your decision to suspend the conversation until you have adequate representation present.
3. You have a Lawyer, No Matter What
The U.S. Constitution is an amazing thing. It includes many essential rights including a criminal defendant’s right to an attorney, which can be found in the Sixth Amendment. Not only do you have this right, the U.S. Supreme Court decided in Gideon vs. Wainwright that legal representation was guaranteed regardless of your ability to pay. Springfield, Missouri is part of District 31 of the Missouri State Public Defender’s office and provides legal counsel to those who cannot afford a lawyer otherwise.
No matter your financial situation, if taken into custody, you can ask for a lawyer. You are under no obligation to respond to any form of police questioning once you reserve your right to have an attorney present.
But I’m innocent, why would I need a lawyer in Springfield?
That’s a good question, but you are still better off speaking with an attorney if you have been arrested or are suspected of having committed a crime. A Springfield law firm like Carver & Associates can apply a wealth of knowledge to your situation because they have studied the law, and know how to protect your rights.
In fact, someone facing a criminal charge is always better off when they have an attorney in their corner who can help protect them from savvy officers and interrogators.
It’s little understood by the public, but even if you’ve convinced yourself that by talking to the police you can escape trouble, arrestees are often required to tell their story over and over to the police and minor inconsistencies can add up to a presumption of guilt. So beware, the police have been conducting interrogations for a long time and always have the upper hand whether your guilty or not.
It may seem like a large investment and not worth the trouble to hire an attorney – but remember, this is your future. A criminal conviction can have life-altering consequences including jail, reduced job prospects, a permanent record, and severe financial consequences. Even though expungements in Missouri are possible, not every crime is covered and never having a conviction is ultimately the preferred route.
4. How to Protect your Future, Under any Circumstance
If you’ve watched The First 48 on A&E, or virtually any other police show, there is always a scene where the detectives are interviewing someone and they claim that “they really want the best outcome for you,” but “they can only help you if you agree to answer their questions.”
As mentioned earlier in this article, this is one of many interrogation techniques the police will use to solicit information and consequently draw conclusions that could hurt you.
The police use a wide-range of tactics to try to acquire the information they are looking for. This can include misinformation, outright lying, and attempting to build a report with you in order to solicit information that can later be used against you in a court of law.
Because you may not immediately recognize that the conversations you’re having could be severely detrimental to your future, we always encourage the invocation of your Constitutional rights by asking to speak with a lawyer.
How many times have you heard the police say a companion who was also arrested has already confessed to police in another interrogation room and this is your opportunity to set the record straight. Well, it’s more likely that you’re being lied to in order to get you to make a statement.
There are a wide-range of reasons someone might be arrested, we’ve outlined what to do in two of the more common scenarios.
Simple Crimes in Springfield MO
With simple crimes, we’re generally speaking about misdemeanors where you may be arrested and released from jail in a short period of time.
Examples of simple crimes include: operating a vehicle on a highway without a valid license, possession of marijuana (under 35 grams), minor visibly intoxicated, canine cruelty, 4th degree assault.
Even with simple crimes, there will be a prosecutor whose only job is to convict you. You may be inclined to go along with the police and prosecutor in order to get it over with, but this is usually a big mistake.
Regardless of the seriousness of the crime, it is important to be represented by counsel who is diligent in fighting to protect your rights. A well-trained, experienced attorney will actively defend your interests in the face of accusations and routinely obtain a more favorable outcome than you might have been able to do alone.
With all the collateral consequences of a criminal conviction, it’s always in your best interest to seek qualified counsel.
Serious Crimes in Springfield MO
Serious crimes are generally felonies and in most cases a cash or surety bond is required in order to remain out of jail pending trial. In some cases, no bond is set and the accused is required to stay in jail pending trial. A lawyer can be instrumental in lowering or doing away with oppressive bond conditions.
With the stakes even higher for this class of crimes, the wrong move could mean years or decades in prison. It’s absolutely essential to pursue the help of qualified legal counsel as soon as possible in this scenario.
An attorney will help you navigate these tricky situations and protect your rights and ultimately your future by providing you with a real strategy for your interaction with the police. Even if you can’t afford an attorney, remember, the State of Missouri provides everyone legal counsel through the Public Defenders program.
Speaking with legal counsel as early as possible will give you the best opportunity to avoid a serious criminal conviction.
Final Comments on Being Arrested in Springfield MO
If you have been arrested in Springfield, remember your civil rights and seek counsel at the earliest opportunity. You are always better off utilizing the help of a qualified and experienced attorney.
If you have questions about a particular situation or arrest that you or a loved are dealing with, we would be more than happy to review your case at no cost to you.. Stay safe and protect your rights!