What To Do If You're Arrested
Being arrested is a traumatic event. It can be difficult to think clearly after an arrest. Many arrestees are scared about the social stigmas, personal consequences, financial consequences, legal consequences and the effect of the arrest on their families. However, it is important to remain focused and to take the steps necessary to ensure that all of your rights are protected. At the time of your arrest, a police officer should provide you with your Miranda Rights. These are not just a formality but rather an important part of your arrest.
Communication with the Police
The Miranda Rights include your right to remain silent. This is an important right grounded in the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution which protects a person from being a witness against himself in a criminal trial. While you should identify yourself upon police request by stating your name and address or providing your driver's license or state ID, you are not required to answer further questions asked to you by a police officer.
Recall that you have every right to stop questioning until you have an attorney present. However, it is in your best interest to be polite. For example, you can calmly state that you will not be answering questions until you have consulted with your attorney.
While you are not required to answer the questions posed by police officials, you are required to remain in their custody until your attorney has secured your release or a judge has established bail which you have met. You should never try to escape from police custody. This will only compound the charges against you and increase your chances of remaining in jail.
Remember the Circumstances of Your Arrest
Sometimes things go wrong during an arrest. An officer may violate your rights or use excessive force, for example. These details may be important in your personal defense and are always important for the officer's superiors to be aware of. For these reasons, it is important that you pay careful attention to everything that happens during your arrest and write it down as soon as possible after your arrest. Witnesses to your arrest can also be important in this regard and may be able to testify about any police misconduct or error that occurred during your arrest. Many police cruisers are equipped with video surveillance that may be obtained during the discovery phase of a trial and can be an important piece of evidence if you are alleging police misconduct or that you did not commit the crime in question.
Right to be Represented by Counsel
Your lawyer can help you at the time of your arrest and throughout your criminal proceedings. After you provide the police with your name, address and telephone number you are not obligated to speak with them without your attorney present. Remember, if you cannot afford a lawyer then the court will appoint a defense lawyer to your case.
Your criminal defense lawyer can start helping you as soon as you call him after your arrest. Your lawyer will help you through police interrogation, bail hearings, plea bargaining and all aspects of your trial.
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.
Additional Criminal Defense Articles
- Criminal Law
- Miranda Rights: The Who, What, Where, When and Why
- Initial Consultation With a Criminal Defense Attorney or a Public Defender
- Infraction, Misdemeanor or Felony: What is the Difference?
- Murder vs. Manslaughter
- Avoiding a Criminal Record
- Can Police Search a Car Without a Warrant?
- Expunging Criminal Records
- What to do if Police Use Excessive Force
- Sentencing Guidelines: Fair Sentences or a Denial of Trial by Jury?
- Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity
- Police Misconduct Leading to Wrongful Convictions
- How the False Testimony of Snitches Results in Wrongful Convictions
- Witness Misidentification
- Prosecutorial Misconduct Leading to Wrongful Convictions
- How Bad Lawyering Can Result in Wrongful Convictions
- Your Fifth Amendment Right Against Self-Incrimination
- Violating Probation
- Search and Seizure Laws by State
- What Happens When You Face Out of State Criminal Charges?
- Criminal Statutes of Limitations: Time Limits for State Charges
- Double Jeopardy
- What Is The National Sex Offender Registry?
- The Truth About Perjury
- Bail For Beginners
- When Does Discipline Become Abuse?
- Are Lie Detector Tests Admissible?
- Defense Strategies in Criminal Cases
- Probable Cause to Arrest Someone
- Resisting Arrest
- The Fruit of the Poisonous Tree Doctrine
- What Is a Defense Attorney?
- Criminal Law Basics
- When Must The Police Read Me My Miranda Rights?
- What is a Plea Bargain?
- What is expungement?
- What is Assault?
- What are my rights when charged with a crime?
- What Is Bail?
- Does an Expunged Criminal Record Still Follow You?
- If I Am Arrested, Should I Hire An Attorney?
State Criminal Defense Articles
- New Jersey
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota