Recently in Police Interrogation Category

December 21, 2011

Are Washington, D.C., Police Racially Profiling Guests at Public Housing?

A potentially disturbing trend is taking place at local housing projects, as black men are alleging that the DC Housing Authority Police and Metropolitan Police are giving them "barring notices" and arresting them under false pretenses, WUSA9 reports.

This is especially troubling for Washington D.C. juveniles charged with crimes, not knowing their rights or how to react to such a situation. Sometimes, young people are charged as being suspects by police, but they actually become victims by authorities who are able to manipulate the law.
Our Washington D.C. criminal defense lawyers recognize that young people who are charged with crimes can end up with long-term consequences as a result of a problem as a teenager. We also realize that teenagers who may be in the wrong place at the wrong time often are cited by police without a whole lot of proof.

A strong police interrogation can turn an innocent teenager into a guilty one, especially when that young person doesn't realize that he or she has a right to remain silent and are under no obligation to speak with officers. Detectives may tell suspects that the only way they can help themselves is to give a statement, but teens don't know that may not be the best thing for them to do at that time.

Even arrests for misdemeanors, seemingly minor crimes, can lead to disqualification for scholarships and college admissions, a job or other necessities that lead to a solid future. Juvenile defendants require strong criminal representation.

In this case, several young African-American men believe that housing police officers and metro officers are forbidding them from visiting housing projects merely based on what they're wearing.

The news station WUSA9 reports that housing authority officials say people are barred from going to public housing projects if they engage in activity that "threatens the safety, health or peaceful enjoyment" of the area for other residents.

One 21-year-old told the news station that he has no prior criminal history, but he was thrown to the ground, searched by officers and had an officer's boot placed on his neck simply for the way he looked.

Another man, a Board of Education member who has a contract to serve on the property, was also arrested. After public pressure, charges were dismissed, but an arrest record still stands.

Local Washington, D.C., criminal defense lawyers have begun working to fight the problem, which they believe is racial discrimination. Another man told the news station that while he has an arrest record from his teenage years, he is now a college graduate who is attempting to be a role model to other young people in the projects.

This is certainly an issue worth looking at because there is no excuse or reason for racially profiling. In 2011, this is an issue that simply shouldn't be cropping up. Police must have a reasonable suspicion, called reasonable doubt, to investigate any person in this country. Simply looking a certain way or having a past criminal history isn't grounds.

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December 9, 2011

Despite Resistance, Occupy D.C. Going Strong In Fight For Equality

Despite violence throughout the nation, including unnecessary pepper-spraying in California and arrests up and down the East Coast, Occupy D.C. members are still trying to spread the word of social equality and accountability for the rich and powerful.

While police have used forceful tactics in their effort to get people to stop peacefully protesting and enjoying their constitutional rights to do so, it's possible that a majority of the arrests that were made were done so unlawfully. Our Washington D.C. criminal defense lawyers
believe that what has been going on nationwide is a symbol of our freedom of speech and a collective effort to hold certain businesses accountable for their actions.occupyprotestarrests.jpg

Many people arrested in the Occupy movement have been older folks who fully understand what they're doing. Others are college students who may not understand the long-term implications of an arrest. Protest arrests in D.C. should be vigorously contested.

Even being charged with a misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct, resisting arrest or another crime that law enforcement allege can have serious consequences to a young person.

This can lead to extended jail time, probation, fines and fees, community service and other court-ordered sanctions. The charges can lead to embarrassment as well. But considering the news media coverage, it can also lead to job loss, disqualification from college or scholarships and other future plans that may be important to a person. That's why ensuring someone is fighting these charges on your behalf is critical.

Two recent news stories show that the movement is going strong in Washington, D.C. The Washington Post reports that three Occupy members have started a hunger strike in order to support democracy in the District and full voting rights for residents.

This is a side group to the Occupy movement called Occupy the Vote D.C. and calls for legislative and budgetary autonomy and full representation and voting rights in Congress.

In other news, protesters recently took over K Street as officers made more than 60 arrests as people blocked four key intersections for much of the day one recent Wednesday. The protest lasted more than an hour after a standoff between protesters and Metropolitan police officers.

The people set up tents and linked arms on the busy street and many faced a charge of blocking a highway. Police used loudspeakers to warn protesters to stop. When they wouldn't, police moved in and began arresting people, tying wrists with plastic strips.

Other law enforcement agencies were called in to help with crowd control and to ensure that drivers wouldn't run over protesters. Protesters tipped over newspaper boxes to use to block traffic and stand atop. Police horses were used to move the crowd.

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November 21, 2011

Occupy Washington D.C. Protesters Arrested, But Have Rights That Police Aren't Upholding

The "Occupy" movement has been well-documented in the news media in recent weeks, as many of the 99 percent have taken to the streets to protest the actions of big banks and corporate greed.

In Washington D.C., the movement has led to arrests, many of which are unlawful -- police are trampling upon the rights of those who are exercising their right to free speech. Many college students and juveniles have been tangled up in alleged criminal activity and risk a future with a criminal record if convicted.
Juvenile arrests in Washington D.C. can lead to missed opportunities in getting jobs, disqualification from college and other issues. Even those who are in college or college-aged can be harmed if they are falsely arrested by police.

If you have been arrested by law enforcement in the Washington D.C. area because of exercising your Constitutional right to free speech, contact a Washington D.C. criminal defense lawyer. Fighting back in court is akin to fighting big businesses and leaders who have let unemployment and poverty spread.

Many of the Occupy protesters who have been arrested have been charged only with minor, misdemeanor charges. But some have faced more serious charges, including those related to violence against police officers. These charges can severely impact a person's life, if they are convicted.

In Washington D.C. recently, 13 people were arrested after police raided a former homeless shelter that protesters were using. According to The Washington Post, police officers moved in after about 200 supporters gathered around the Franklin School, which is owned by the city.

After a standoff for about three hours, firefighters broke down a door and police entered the building. Supporters formed a chain around the building and police "negotiated" with them in order to avoid more arrests. The school, a historic landmark, was formerly a homeless shelter, but was shut down three years ago.

In an extreme example of violence, police officers from the University of California, Davis, were caught pepper spraying protesters in front of a crowd of people. They were sitting on the ground as officers with helmets stood in front of them and sprayed them in the face.

The campus police chief was put on leave and the university's chancellor has asked for a criminal investigation. In Oakland, The Times reports, police used tear gas to quell supporters of the movement.

In a small sign of hope, a federal judge in Florida recently ruled that a city ordinance that makes protestors get a city permit a violation of demonstrators' First Amendment rights. The News-Press in Fort Myers said that the ruling was a victory for Americans' rights and free speech.

This movement may well continue for months to come, as people attempt to stop the issues they see ruining our great country. Many of these protestors are young and impressionable and risk ruining their future if an arrest turns into a conviction. If you are arrested, contact an experienced Washington D.C. criminal defense lawyer, who can help you fight the charges.

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November 9, 2011

More on Not Talking to the Enemy and Why You Should Take The Nickel (Plead the Fifth) When Being Investigated for a Washington, DC Crime

I have been getting a lot calls recently from people who are being contacted by the Washington, DC Metropolitan Police and told he or she is the subject of an investigation.

Sometimes it for an alleged sexual abuse, other times it may be for a white-collar crime; it could even be fore a violent felony like armed robbery or murder. As a Washington, DC criminal defense attorney, these potential clients often ask me to go with them to talk to the cops. And the answer to that is generally no. Not because I don't want to take the case or help out, but because there is often no reason to agree to speak with the police in the first place. 1084673_doubt.jpg

Your attorney can decided if that is appropriate in your case, and if not, then he can call the officer and tell him you are exercising your constitutional right not making any statements.

You may be asking if that means you will be arrested if you don't talk. The answer is maybe. They may very well arrest you if they have enough evidence without you making a statement. If they don't have enough evidence and you don't speak to them, then they will probably not arrest you.

But if you go in there trying to explain what happened, they can and will use it against you. What generally doesn't happen is, the suspect goes in and makes a statement and the officer decides not to press charges. This may seem strange, but the cops can use anything against you even if you think it shows your innocence. As you have seen many times on Law and Order and shows like it, the cops are not your friends and they are not trying to help you no matter what they say in the interrogation room. They don't have the power to make any deals on behalf of the United States Attorney, and they usually aren't concerned with your best interests. They are looking to make an arrest, so why help them?

Keep in mind that the police don't ever ask you to do anything unless they need your permission. They ask you for consent to search your car because they don't have probable cause to do the search without your consent. They ask you to come down to the station because they don't have probable cause to get an arrest warrant. If they did, they would not be asking, they would just cuff you and take you in to the station. The best thing you can do is take the nickel and call an attorney.

Just to put this in an historical context, since the 1966 landmark Supreme Court decision of Miranda v. Arizona, politicians have been trying to get rid of the requirement for a Miranda warning. There was a law created in 1968 that was designed to overrule Miranda. It took over 30 years to reach the Supreme Court and when it did, it was decided that the Miranda warnings are constitutionally required. Even judges like the late Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist voted to keep the warnings. While this came as a surprise to many, the reason was not necessarily to protect the people from self-incrimination. It was the fact that almost everybody can repeat the Miranda warning by heart.

Even high school students can tell you that you have the right to remain silent. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you. What Rehnquist realized was that dispite having committed these significant constitutional protects to memory, the vast majority of people will give them up without thinking twice and talk. Don't be one of these people. Take a nickel and protect your rights.

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