Common Legal Myths vs. Truth

By Jeffery Rubenstein

Myth: “I did not know it was illegal” is a good defense to committing a crime.
Truth: Ignorance of the law is not a defense to committing a crime.

Myth: If I am arrested, I get to make a phone call.
Truth: Law enforcement is not required to provide a person with a phone call. There are times when a person has access to making a collect phone call when in custody; however, it is not legally required by law.

Myth: There is always video and/or audio recording of any interactions a person has with law enforcement.
Truth: The law does not require law enforcement to have a camera (audio and/or video) recording their investigations and/or arrests. Some police agencies provide audio and/or video recordings to their officers to use them, and if so, this is evidence which can be requested by attorneys to review if a criminal case is filed.

Myth: It’s legal to smoke marijuana and drive.
Truth: Although it is lawful to purchase marijuana at a licensed marijuana dispensary/store and consume it, people cannot drive under the influence of marijuana. This is the same law as we have with alcohol. A person who is 21 or older may purchase and consume alcohol; however, they cannot drive under the influence of alcohol. There is no specific amount of THC nanograms (the active metabolite in marijuana) that must be in a person’s system for an individual to be considered “under the influence” of this substance. Whether a person is under the influence of marijuana is based on a trained officer in detecting the signs and symptoms of being under the influence.

Myth: Police cannot lie when conducting an investigating and interviewing.
Truth: Unfortunately, it is lawful for police to lie to those they are interviewing during their investigation. This is one of the many reasons why as defense attorneys at the Law Office of Jeffery K. Rubenstein, we strongly recommend that anyone who is a suspect being questioned by law enforcement not provide any statement to police.

Myth: Police must read your “Miranda Rights” after arrest.
Truth: The only time law enforcement must legally advise a person of their “Miranda Rights” is when police want to speak with a person who has been arrested and that individual is in custody. It is not uncommon for a person to be arrested and not questioned by police afterwards. However, if police want to speak with someone who is arrested AND in custody, law enforcement must advise the person of their “Miranda Rights” for any statements made by the person to be legally admissible in court.

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