This is quick and mostly republished articles from my law firm website www.fashionentlaw.com. YNaija reports Don Jazzy has had to deal with and dispel rumors on twitter today that he was arrested on cocaine charges in New York.
Nigerian artists, for the most part, do not get into criminal legal trouble. I hope it stays that way. We already have 419 bad reputation to contend with internationally. We need our artists behaving very well. #knockonwood
I do criminal defense work in addition to fashion and entertainment law. I have handled cases from misdemeanor thefts to felony attempted murder. Visit my law firm website blog to get caught up on some of the criminal cases I blog about in mainstream US, if interested in knowing more about some of the issues that arise in that area of work.
July 2010 Sammie Okposo was arrested in Scotland for racial statements he allegedly made in a restaurant. Now we hear the rumors of Don Jazzy. Thankfully, this is NOT true. But, life is so funny. You never know where the curveballs might come. You are minding your own business and #GBAM out of nowhere, you are getting arrested. What should you know if you get arrested in a foreign land, in general? What about if you get arrested in the USA?
If you get arrested in a foreign land, here are a few things to note:
1. When you travel to a foreign land, you are subject to the laws of that jurisdiction (country). For Nigerian and Ghanaian-Americans, the US constitution and its wonderful protections do not apply. In many countries, there is no right to a speedy trial (which means you can be stuck in jail for a while), jury etc.
2. For all, take time to understand the basic laws of the land you visit, nothing intense. Most tourist guidebooks and the embassy office of the country you seek to visit will have that information.
3. Highly important is that you check in with your country’s embassy and/or consulate offices in your foreign destination. This is a customary practice for me. When I travel abroad, I check in at the US embassy in the country I travel to. At the US embassy, for example, I usually complete a couple of documents providing information about my home in the USA, my location in the foreign land and emergency contact info. For US Citizens (Nigericans, Ghanaianricans), doing so means when trouble strikes, the US embassy and/consular office can immediately visit you, when you request a visit, provide information so you can retain a local attorney, help you understand the legal process in the foreign land, help contact your family and be the watch dog to make sure due process is afforded you, among other services.
4. Finally, cooperate with officials in your foreign land. Be polite. Be respectful. Laws, cultures and customs are different. For fellow Nigericans and Americans of African heritage reading this, it is not the time to assert your freedom of speech etc. When in Rome, do as the Romans.
What to Know If you are arrested in the USA- We don’t pray for bad things o! But hey, life is what it is:
Understand What it means to be arrested?
When you are arrested, it simply means you are not free to leave the scene. It is not uncommon for criminal defense lawyers to advise their clients to inquire from the arresting officer a simple question, “Am I free to go.” If the answer is “yes” then there is no arrest. If it is “no” then you are under arrest.
Can you be detained without being arrested?
Can the police detain you i.e. hold you for questioning if they believe you might have been involved in a crime? They certainly can. Such detention should only be for a short period. It does not amount to an arrest.
Do I have to Answer Questions the Police Ask Me?
No. In fact, it is prudent to speak to an attorney, first, before answering the questions police officers might pose to you. This is also where you have probably heard about the “Miranda” warnings . . . common in many American legal movies and TV series consumed in Nigeria and Ghana. When you ask for an attorney, it automatically invokes your privilege to remain silent.
Officers will read the following rights to you and then ask if you understand the rights and if you waive them. If you waive them, then you can be questioned without an attorney present. If the police begins questioning you and you decide you do not want to answer any further questions, they must immediately stop asking further questions. If they ignore this and continue to ask questions and you continue to answer, understand that the statements you make can and are usually used against you in a court of law to prosecute you.
The Miranda Warnings typically take the form below:
1. You have the right to remain silent
2. If you give up the right to remain silent, anything you do and say can and will be used in a court of law against you
3. You have the right to speak with an attorney of your choice before questioning, and to have the attorney present during questioning.
4. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you by the court before any questioning, if you so desire. The attorney will not cost you anything; the services are free.
The police will also typically ask:
5. Do you understand each of these rights as explained to you
6. Having in mind and understanding your rights as explained to you, are you willing to talk to me (the police)*
GET A LAWYER
If you are arrested, get a lawyer ASAP!!
On a lighter note, I need to do my Oliver twist. I am overdue.
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