Unfortunately, we live in a society where racial profiling happens all the time. Racial profiling can result in psychological stress, fear, humiliation, and many more harmful emotions. But beyond just the emotional trauma, racial profiling can turn a life upside down. Tragically, racial profiling can result in criminal charges that are completely unjust. Without adequate criminal defense, even false accusations can turn into a conviction that may turn your life around and not for the better.
The Leadership Council on Civil and Human Rights defines racial profiling as “the reliance by law enforcement on race, ethnicity, national origin, or religion in
deciding whom to investigate, arrest, or detain, where these characteristics are not part of a specific subject description.”
A recent story reported by WBTV demonstrates yet another example of racial profiling of innocent victims. A couple on a mundane Walmart run in Charlotte, NC were aggressively confronted by police for no reason other than profiling. The couple – who are African-American – had just bought several bags of mulch and, with their receipt in hand, left the store to load the mulch into their car. Suddenly, the store manager and two sheriff’s deputies were running in their direction, demanding to see proof of payment for the mulch. Another deputy ran towards them as well. Even when the couple presented their receipt, the officers acted aggressively. One of the deputies lowered his hand towards his gun.
When the couple asked why they were accosted so aggressively, the store manager responded that they were theft suspects. They were wearing masks as a protection against COVID-19. But, 80% of the customers in the store were wearing similar COVID-19 masks. It is apparent that the couple had been the targets of racial profiling. Now, imagine if they had actually been formally charged with theft.
This story is just one of many instances where innocent citizens are routinely stopped, harassed, detained, and even arrested simply because of the color of their skin.
What To Do If You Are Falsely Charged With A Crime
If you were the victim of racial profiling that led to criminal charges, there are a few criminal defense options that an attorney can explore with you. One of the most common tools is to ask for a motion to suppress. If granted, a motion to suppress will make tainted evidence unusable in court. The principle behind this defense is that if evidence was gathered unlawfully (such as alleged probable caused relying on racial profiling) it cannot be used against you in court. Frequently, police do make errors and a criminal defense attorney can help you prove that they did.
But before you end up discussing your options with a criminal defense attorney, you should remember your immediate constitutional rights. Yes, racial profiling can be a violation, but asserting your constitutional rights during an encounter with law enforcement can often save you from waiving important rights.
- Remember your right to remain silent. If police attempt to question you after arrest, they are required to read to you your “Miranda Rights,” which guarantees that “no person…shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself (or herself).” Being a witness against yourself refers to how law enforcement may use anything you say as evidence against you. You can assert this right to say nothing by saying something like “I invoke my right to remain silent.”
- Remember your right to legal counsel. This comes from the Sixth Amendment and gives any defendant the opportunity to benefit from legal counsel. You can invoke this right by saying to the police “I want to speak with an attorney.” You have the legal right to refuse to answer questions and speak with a lawyer at any time. You may ask to speak to an attorney at any stage in the proceeding.
Even if you’re innocent, answering questions or trying to defend yourself by telling your side of the story can often make your case more difficult.
Remember, there will be two versions of what you say—what you say you said and what the police say that you said. Who do you suppose the jury will believe? Don’t put yourself in such a position.
Call a criminal defense attorney ASAP to protect your best interests. Remember that you can stop the police from harassing you or frightening you with their threats. Just say “I want a lawyer now.” Usually they will have to finish booking procedure, but they won’t bother you anymore. They don’t have a right to continue questioning you until they provide a lawyer for you. Normally, they cannot and will not produce one.
Racial profiling is a serious problem. But there are solutions available to you. The legal team at the Law Office of Donald A. Lykkebak is here to support your positions and fight for your rights. Don’t risk the further violation of your rights and your freedom. Let us help you get justice! Contact our Orlando office at 407-425-4044 or online.