Stiefvater Law, LLC
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Know Your Rights - Criminal Defense Attorney

You have Constitutionally Guaranteed Rights - Know & Exercise them!!!

This page was developed to provide a brief overview of some of your rights.  If you have specific questions about your rights, ask a Criminal Defense Lawyer.

Pre-Arrest Rights

The police can perform a brief investigatory stop of a person (whether in a vehicle or not).  The investigatory stop must be supported by reasonable, articulable suspicion that illegal activity is occurring.

A frisk or pat-down can only be justified (during an investigatory stop) if the officer has a reasonable belief that the person is carrying a weapon or is otherwise a threat to the officer.


An officer must have probable cause to arrest.  Probable cause is defined as “information sufficient to justify a reasonably prudent person to believe that (1) an offense was committed; and (2) that the individual being arrested committed the offense.”

There are different requirements for an arrest with or without a warrant and for where the arrest takes place.

Right to Remain Silent

Once you are placed under arrest, you have the right to remain silent.  Prior to your arrest, you are not required to provide any information other than your identification.

Many arresting police officers will attempt to have you make incriminating statements or confessions.  They will make you feel that if you make these statements that they will go easy on you.  If you are in this situation, respectfully ask for an attorney and do not say a word until you have spoken with your lawyer.  If a deal is going to be brokered with the police- your lawyer can ensure that you will be protected.

Right to Counsel

Anytime you have been arrested or charged with a crime that has a potential term of incarceration, you have the right to an attorney.  Exercise this right.  Do not make statements until you have spoken to your lawyer.

If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed to you.  Public Defenders often receive a bad rap – regardless of your opinion or the opinions of others – you are better off with a public defender than with no lawyer at all.


This page is constantly being updated and expanded.  If you have questions concerning your rights do not hesitate to call Attorney Stiefvater.