Legal Tips & General Advice
The following is some general information that Attorney Bruno Gitnacht frequently shares in all of his presentations regarding “know your rights,” practical tips, and some points to keep in mind and help you pick out the right legal representation. Part of the information below is based on the law and part on Bruno’s personal opinion.
Know Your Rights:
When being questioned by any law enforcement officer, you have the right to:
(1) Remain silent. Aside from identifying yourself and presenting proof of identification (which is, many times, required by law), you are not required to answer any questions or provide any other information. You have the right to remain silent and to not answer any questions.
(2) Be represented by an attorney. You may ask to have an attorney present at any point. If you invoke this right, the officer must cease all lines of questioning until your attorney is present. Your request to have an attorney present (or consult with one before proceeding with questioning) must be clear and unequivocal.
(3) Not incriminate yourself. Anything you say may (and will) be used against you in a court of law. You may think that by confessing to some wrongdoing or admitting to certain things you are helping your case, but chances are you are digging yourself a deeper grave. The best thing to do is to not answer any questions or provide information concerning the offense or incident being investigated that involves you as a potential suspect. If you really feel you must cooperate and/or confess and you voluntarily choose to do so – for whatever reason – at least make sure you consult with an attorney first and/or have one present during questioning.
(1) Keep your attorney’s contact information handy. Always carry the business card or contact information of an attorney you trust with you in case of an emergency.
(2) Share your attorney’s contact information. Share your attorney’s contact information with your loved ones, so that they may contact him or her in case you are ever detained or arrested.
(3) If asked for consent, know that you may refuse. If an officer asks you for permission to search your vehicle, home, belongings, etc., that means they are seeking your consent. Feel free to refuse and say “no.” (Keep in mind, though, that an officer may still search your property with or without a warrant under limited circumstances, regardless of your consent or lack thereof.)
(4) Do not volunteer any information about your legal status in the United States. If you do not have any legal status in the United States, do not answer any questions about your status in this country, how you came into the United States, your occupation, your social security number, work permit, or anything else related to your presence in this country.
General Advice on Seeking Legal Representation:
(1) Make sure you hire a licensed attorney. This means that the person you hire must have a valid Bar Number and must not be currently suspended or disbarred by the State Bar.
NOTE: Notaries, paralegals, and document preparers might know the law but they are not necessarily licensed attorneys. Be careful not to become a victim of unscrupulous “sales people” who may charge you less than a regular attorney would, but the quality of their work will be compromised and your case (and, in turn, you) will suffer the consequences.
(2) If something seems too good to be true, it probably is! Use your instincts and do not just blindly trust whoever promises you the world. Talk is cheap. Some attorneys and non-attorneys will tell you exactly what you would want to hear so as to ensure you will hire them. What you want is not false hope; rather, what you want is to know your true legal options and the possible case outcomes. So, if something seems too good to be true, or if the professional you are considering hiring is promising or guaranteeing a certain result or outcome, be wary and seek out a second (or even a third) opinion from a different attorney.
(3) Do you know who your actual attorney is? Some large, multi-attorney law firms flood the market with advertising. Sure, they are well known, but that does not necessarily mean they are any good. Many of Attorney Bruno Gitnacht’s clients come to him after being disappointed that they had hired a big law firm and experienced the tell-tale signs of poor representation: never getting to meet the actual attorney representing them, having multiple attorneys show up in different court hearings, not having good communication with their attorney, and ultimately, finding out the attorney is not really working their case to their needs and satisfaction. At the Law Office of Bruno Gitnacht, you will never feel defrauded or disappointed; on the contrary, from your very first visit to our offices, you will have direct personal contact with Attorney Bruno Gitnacht and he will explain to you all your options. You will see and feel that our office is founded on the basic cardinal rules of an effective legal representation: personalized attention, honesty, zealous representation, and contact direct communication with Attorney Bruno Gitnacht.
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