Question: My son is a freshman at Marshall. He's always been a good kid, but lately his grades are slipping and he seems to be hanging out with a crowd that is using drugs--one of his friends was just arrested for possession of marijuana. What should I advise my son to do if the cops come calling?
Answer: College kids have a tendency to push the limits once they leave home and are on their own. But if one of your son's friends was arrested, I would be concerned that he is engaging in behaviors that could put him on the wrong side of the law.
You can't control what your son is going to do when he is away from home. But, you can give him some important information that can help him protect his rights. Your son has the right to "not incriminate himself." That means that he never, ever has to talk to an officer--either in person, on the phone or at the station house.
You have no doubt heard the words, "You have the right to remain silent." That is a right that everyone has--and yet, when a cop approaches us, we naturally think we must speak with them. From the perspective of criminal defense, that is absolutely the worst thing you can do. Police officers are very adept at getting people to talk--you may think you will not say anything that could be used against you. But, almost inevitably, you will.
So memorize these few words, and make sure your son knows them, too: I will not talk to you without a lawyer." At that point, law enforcement is required to stop questioning you. Also, have the phone number of a Huntington, West Virginia criminal defense attorney on your phone. Defense attorneys answer their phones around the clock--so if you are arrested, help is at your fingertips.