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You Have The Right to Remain Silent–So Shut Your Mouth (Opinion)


Lindsay Wheeler, JD
High Sierra Legal

By Lindsay Wheeler, J.D.

Lame legal disclaimer: See, “Why Lawyers Suck” (http://www.jurisdisprudent.com). This in no way constitutes legal advice and is for general information purposes only.

In the spirit of Hot August Nights, which is on right now, here is a little primer for dealing with law enforcement and what to expect if you’re arrested in Reno.

In Nevada, our laws are set forth nice and in an organized fashion via the Nevada Revised Statutes. Our legislatures had the forethought to make our laws accessible and understandable for our state citizens. They are broken down by title, which deals with the subject matter and then into sections. Here is the link to them: https://www.leg.state.nv.us/NRS/ for your reading pleasure.

These two are particularly important: NRS 171.123 – Temporary detention by peace officer of person suspected of criminal behavior or of violating conditions of parole or probation:

  1. Any peace officer may detain any person whom the officer encounters under circumstances which reasonably indicate that the person has committed, is committing or is about to commit a crime.
  2. Any peace officer may detain any person the officer encounters under circumstances which reasonably indicate that the person has violated or is violating the conditions of the person’s parole or probation.
  3. The officer may detain the person pursuant to this section only to ascertain the person’s identity and the suspicious circumstances surrounding the person’s presence abroad. Any person so detained shall identify himself or herself, but may not be compelled to answer any other inquiry of any peace officer.
  4. A person must not be detained longer than is reasonably necessary to effect the purposes of this section, and in no event longer than 60 minutes. The detention must not extend beyond the place or the immediate vicinity of the place where the detention was first effected, unless the person is arrested.

NRS 171.1231  Arrest if probable cause appears.  At any time after the onset of the detention pursuant to NRS 171.123, the person so detained shall be arrested if probable cause for an arrest appears. If, after inquiry into the circumstances which prompted the detention, no probable cause for arrest appears, such person shall be released.

What to expect if you happen to be arrested by our fine law enforcement officers?

  1. Try to be polite and cooperative (yeah, I have a hard time with this one, however in light of recent events, this may be deadly for you if you’re not).
  2. You will be placed in handcuffs, read your rights, placed into a police vehicle and taken to Parr Blvd. for booking
  3. You will be photographed, fingerprinted, and depending on time of arrest and whether your bail is posted, or you are released on your own recognizance, you may change into jail clothes and placed into housing
  4. If you are know you are being arrested, get rid of as many personal items as possible to a friend who is not being arrested or leave it where you are if possible. These items will be booked in as well in your personal inventory and may be “lost” or possibly used as evidence later.
  5. You should be able to make a phone call.
  6. You will be interviewed in order to gather information that will help the jail determine where you should be housed, whether you are on medications or have other issues that might effect your placement at the jail.
  7. If the crime you have been arrested for is minimal, i.e. a general misdemeanor (excluding DUI) you generally will be booked and then released. You will wait your turn to be booked (if it is a busy time) in an open room with plastic chairs. You will be provided PB&J, some form of questionable meat sandwich, oranges and water – generally in a bin they will bring out. There is a TV to watch, usually no sound. You will wait your turn to be booked. Do not speak to anyone else next to you. The officers get irritated with this.
  8. If you are arrested for a DUI, you will wait to ‘sober up’ in the drunk tank (Gross!)
  9. The most important thing to remember is to KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT. Give only the basic information that is required of you. Do not speak about the alleged crime for which you are being detained or arrested. Only speak to your lawyer. Do not speak to anyone about anything. Not where you’re from, what you do, why you’re there, nothing. Not one single thing. You have now become a mute.

The police are legally allowed to lie to you in order to obtain evidence, information or a confession. Never trust the police if you’ve been arrested.

A misunderstanding of the Miranda Admonition:

1. Upon being read the basic rights against self-incrimination and the right to an attorney, the officer will either ask you if you understand these rights as they have been read to you, and/or you will have to sign a paper indicating you understood these rights.

2. However, you may not be read any rights upon detention or arrest. You must be in custody and under interrogation for the police to be required to give you the Miranda warning. Anything you say before arrest or spontaneously after arrest can and will be used against you.

3. If you are read your rights–you MUST state as clearly and simply as possible, I understand my rights, I am invoking my right to remain silent and I am invoking my right to an attorney. If you have to keep repeating this, do so.

1.DO NOT discuss the facts of your case with ANYONE BUT YOUR ATTORNEY or their investigator.

2.DO NOT send letters about your case, or receive letters about your case, except legal mail only from your attorney, and maybe even then. (The Jail copies ALL correspondence.)

3.DO NOT discuss anything on the phone. (All conversations are recorded.)

4.DO NOT discuss your case with any jail personnel, including medical staff or others in jail with you.

5.DO NOT discuss your case with social workers, and do not meet without speaking to your attorney first.

6. DO NOT discuss your case with anyone except for your lawyer. This includes cell mates and other people in the jail. Just assume everyone is there to help convict you.

Hopefully you will never be in a situation in which you need this information, but if you do, affirmatively assert your rights to remain silent and to a lawyer. And of course, shut your mouth and let your lawyer do his or her job.

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