What Should I Do If I Get Arrested In Vermont? (Part I)
How should I conduct myself around a Vermont police officer?
First of all: Be polite. The officer is doing the job we pay them to do. Usually, they do it politely and professionally. Be nice to them and they will usually be nice to you. The officer has a lot of discretion as his or her investigation unfolds, such as letting you go sooner rather than later, putting the cuffs on tightly or not, allowing you to use the restroom if you need to. Depending on the severity of the alleged crime, if conditions require processing you the officer often has the discretion to just issue you a flash citation instead of taking you into custody. If you receive a flash citation you must appear in a designated court in Vermont on a specific day. Throughout your interaction with the officer he/she is noting your behavior for the State of Vermont in connection with a possible prosecution, as well as for the court. If you behave poorly when interacting with the officer this can have a direct effect on the conditions of your release, possible bail requirements, and ultimately the case’s final disposition. In summary, the more well-mannered you act, the more likely the outcome will be positive.
Besides, this is not the person to pitch your battle against. The real fight, if there is to be one, will occur in court. The Vermont police officer in front of you is merely a minor cog in the wheel of justice. Don’t waste your time or energy (or credibility) trying to convince them of anything. If they are going to arrest you, insolence and threatening behavior is certainly not going to somehow win them over. It will fall on deaf ears and merely harden their resolve.
Remember, their role is to serve us, and that includes you, even in these circumstances. Treat them as the public servant they are. Like someone you have hired to help keep your town safe. Someone that works for you. Be polite and patient. Stay in control of yourself and the situation.
This doesn’t mean by any stretch of the imagination that you should consent to anything.
As an experienced Vermont defense attorney it is difficult to imagine any circumstances that warrant consenting to a request to search your vehicle or making admissions, or answering any but the most basic questions. If you have been detained while in your car, politely provide the officer with your license, registration, and insurance card. ALWAYS be able to put your hands on these documents quickly and easily. Otherwise, looking around for them will be perceived as fumbling behavior, possibly supportive of further investigation. If circumstances require it or if you are at unease in any way, request that all further questions be referred to your attorney. Write his or her number out and provide this to the officer. This will stop them in their tracks and preserve the maximum amount of defenses available to you should you end up being arrested for something. Yes, this can feel awkward. We usually feel compelled to answer their (well-rehearsed) questions, as we are taught from an early age to respond with answers to authority figures. Get over that. Subtly remind the officer that you are still in charge, asserting your constitutionally protected rights. This immediately puts the officer on notice that you know your rights and that they should tread carefully; that you are not to be trifled with. Don’t answer questions about where you are going, where you are coming from. None of that. Simply provide your name, an ID and, if appropriate, the car’s documents.
If you are have been arrested in Vermont, please contact experienced Vermont attorney, Kevin Volz, at 802.775.0700.