If I Am Arrested, Should I Hire An Attorney?

You may be entitled to a Court Appointed Attorney at Public expense if you qualify as an indigent person. An indigent person is one who cannot hire an attorney without causing substantial hardship to himself/herself or dependent family. If you have been charged with a crime, you may complete an Affidavit of Indigence and Request for Court Appointed Counsel at your first court appearance. If you qualify, an attorney will be appointed for you. If you are convicted of a crime, the court may require you to repay some or all of the cost of your defense if it determines you are able.

A warrant has been issued for my arrest, what does this mean?

If you have a warrant out for your arrest, this means a judge has issued an order allowing law enforcement to take you into custody.  An arrest warrant permits law enforcement officers to arrest you at any location where you might be, and regardless of whether you are doing something illegal at the time of your arrest.  Once you are arrested, you will taken to jail; depending on the nature of your arrest, you may be given the opportunity to post a bond and be released from jail.  Regardless of whether you post bond, however, you will next have to appear in court in order to answer to the criminal charges that served as the basis for the arrest warrant.

What Is A Custodial Interrogation Requiring A Miranda Warning?

An interrogation is a method of police questioning that occurs when an individual is in custody and is not free to leave. In a police interrogation, the police ask questions or make statements that encourage the individual being questioned to disclose important and incriminating information that might help them in their investigation and help the prosecutor in charging the individual with a crime.  In order for statements made by a suspect curing a custodial interrogation to be used against them in court, the police must have already advised the suspect of his or her Miranda rights and the suspect must knowingly and voluntarily waive those rights. 

Can I Be Pulled Over For A Traffic Violation And Questioned?

Police questioning during a routine traffic stop is not usually considered to be an "illegal interrogation."  An illegal interrogation is when the police conduct a custodial interrogation without having first informed the suspect of his or her Miranda rights (the right to remain silent, the right to have an attorney present during the questioning, etc.).   

Even though you are "detained" by the police during a routine traffic stop, and not free to go, the detention is brief and the encounter occurs in public. The Supreme Court has ruled that this kind of detention does not amount to a custodial interrogation to which Miranda rights attach. 

How Do I Know If I Am In Custody?

Once your Miranda rights (“you have the right to an attorney, anything you say can and will be used against you, etc…”) have been read to you, you are formally in custody and you are not free to go.

The Police Put Me In A Line-Up But I Did Not Have An Attorney, Is That Legal?

It is legal for the police to put you in a line-up as long as you have not been formally charged of a crime and you have not requested an attorney.

Can I Be Arrested For The Sole Purpose Of Being Questioned On A Matter?

No. The police can request that you accompany them to a police station for questioning but you are not required to go unless you have been arrested for an offense.

The information on this page is meant to provide a general overview of the law. The laws in your state and/or city may deviate significantly from those described here. If you have specific questions related to your situation you should speak with a local attorney.

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