I’ve been practicing criminal defense law for almost 25 years. The most important step I’ve discovered in avoiding arrest is to avoid encountering the police in the first place.
Recently, a client called the police about a domestic disturbance with his wife. This is usually a bad idea, because police usually have orders to arrest someone for any potential domestic callout. Whenever you call the police, it is also standard for them to check arrest warrants on everyone.
In this case, it was a particularly bad idea. There were outstanding bench warrants for my client.
I do not know how he thought this would play out.
One of the things we discuss in just about every criminal case is how the person made contact with the police. I usually get answers like, “The police were harassing me.” When it comes down to it, the real question is usually, “What did you do that got the attention of the cops in the first place?” In other words, with millions of people out there, what did you have to do to draw the attention of law enforcement?
I have had dozens of people stopped for traffic tickets by officers intending to do nothing more than write a speeding ticket and move on. Prolonged argument with the police over the fairness of the ticket can elevate the situation to an arrest for charges like DWI and even resisting arrest for a refusal to sign the ticket.
Another popular way to get arrested is sticking around after being told to leave. Let’s say you do not like the quality of the delicious hamburger you ordered and start arguing with the manager. At some point, he may ask you to leave and threaten to call the police. It is probably a good idea to do just that before the cops arrive. If you decide to stick around to stand your ground, the likely charge will be “Remaining After Being Forbidden”—a misdemeanor that usually comes with a free ride in a squad car.
In my defense experience, the most memorable charge for this was a client who did not like a sandwich at a local poboy restaurant. The manager told him to leave. My client upped the ante by calling the cops himself.
He was then picked up, not only for his outstanding bench warrant, but also for not leaving when he had the chance.
Remember Your Manners
Police generally think they can arrest anyone for just about anything. The cops have a special phrase for it: an attitude arrest. You may be able to beat the charge in court, but you cannot beat the ride to jail and everything that comes with it.
Sometimes, it is just a lack of politeness that gets you chauffeured to jail. A bad attitude directed toward the cop can make a situation worse than it needs to be. I cannot tell you how many people have spent time in our court system who thought that yelling something like, “Don’t you know who I am?!” at the officer at 2am on the side of the road would impress them.
Oh, it impresses them, all right.
Written by Greg Gouner