People facing drug charges have rights when first encountering the police, during an arrest and throughout interrogations.
Understanding these rights can help someone under suspicion of drug possession to react properly and can also inform the development of a defense strategy, especially if law enforcement infringed on these rights.
Rights in a police encounter
The American Civil Liberties Union outlines the rights that people have if law enforcement officers stop them or pull them over, or if the police come to their door. In all situations, the person of interest has the right to remain silent and can refrain from answering most questions, except for giving his or her name or at airports and international borders.
If police officers stop someone on the street, they do not have the right to search for belongings, except to pat down for a suspected weapon, and the person can refuse consent for any search. At someone’s home, officers do not have the right to enter unless they have a search warrant. If officers pull someone over, he or she must show license, registration and insurance proof when the police request them.
Rights when under arrest
According to the Cornell Law School Legal Information Institute, the officer must read the person his or her Miranda rights. The main components are the right to remain silent and a right to an attorney. The person of interest needs to invoke the right to remain silent by verbally saying it.
Upon arrest, the person can request an attorney. If the person cannot afford one, the court must appoint one for counsel. The defendant should not say anything until consulting with the attorney.