What do I do if I am arrested by the police?
Stay calm and don’t panic! NEVER resist arrest by police, even if you feel you are being wrongfully arrested. Resisting arrest will very likely lead to the greater use of force by the police and in additional criminal charges.
What are my rights once I am placed under arrest?
Once you are placed under arrest, you will usually be advised of your Constitutional rights as follows: 1) You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law; 2) You have the right to speak to an attorney, and to have an attorney present during questioning; 3) If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided to you at government expense. After these rights, known as Miranda rights, are read to you, you will be asked if you understand these rights. If you need an interpreter to help you with the understanding of these rights, you can request one. If you don’t understand your rights, even with the help of an interpreter, let the police officer know. Once you have indicated you understand your rights, the police officer will usually ask you if you wish to waive them and provide a statement.
Should I exercise any or all of my rights?
In general, it is better to ask for your lawyer and decline to answer any questions unless instructed by your lawyer. Many people get in trouble when they attempt to explain their situation or provide an excuse for their conduct that led to the arrest. Remember, all of the statements you make will be used against you in a court of law. Sometimes, lies are as damaging against you as confessions. So, unless authorized by your lawyer, don’t say anything beyond your name and contact information. For those who are foreign citizens visiting the United States, you should consider notifying your country’s Embassy or Consulate of your arrest. They may have resources available to help you.
Does being placed under arrest necessarily mean I will be detained in jail?
No. If you are arrested for a minor offense like shoplifting, driving while license suspended, or even driving while under the influence, you may be booked into jail and processed for fingerprints and other administrative requirements. However, once these have been completed, you may be released on your own recognizance or to an adult relative or friend, assuming you are not a danger to yourself or others. Your release does not mean you will not be charged with a crime later after the investigation is completed. Your release just means that the police see no reason to detain you at the time. So be on your best behavior and follow all commands by the police. Once released, you should also use the time to look for a competent and experienced lawyer because you will probably be charged a later date. Don’t wait until the last minute to find a good lawyer. If you are arrested for a serious or violent offense, you will very probably be detained in jail. This is also true if you are found to have an outstanding warrant for your arrest on another matter, even though your current arrest is for a minor offense.
What should I do if I am detained following an arrest?
Ask for access to a phone. Your first phone call should be to someone you trust and someone you know you can reach right away. This may be your lawyer or a family member or friend. If you call a family member or friend, be sure he or she helps you find and hire a good, dependable and experienced lawyer. You should also have your contact research the several bail bond companies in the area. You may need their assistance to post bail. For many charges, the court may allow you to be released pending trial if you post bail, so it is important to have a bail bond company ready to assist you to minimize your time spent in jail.
What should I do if I believe I am being wrongfully arrested?
Discuss this with your lawyer. Do not argue with the police or the judge. Let your lawyer handle this for you.
What usually happens 24-72 hours following an arrest and detention?
Not including weekends and certain holidays, within this time period, you will usually be given what is known as your “first appearance’ before a judge. The judge will review the police reports and determine if there is “probable cause” to believe you committed a crime. If there is such cause, the judge will next determine if you should continue to be detained or if you should be released with conditions such as bail, promise not to engage in further criminal behavior, promise to stay away from certain persons or places. This is why it is important to hire a lawyer right away and arrange for the posting of bail through your own finances or through a bail bond company. If you are detained, the prosecutor must file formal charges against you within 72 hours of your arrest. If he/she doesn’t, then you must be released. Again, this does not mean you are completely clear. It very likely means that the prosecutor needs more time to bring charges against you. So use this time to hire a good lawyer.
What are factors that the judge will consider in determining whether to release or keep me in detention?
Factors in favor of release include the lack of criminal history, the relatively minor nature of the crime, presence of a support system, history of continuous employment, ties to the community and verifiable address and contact information, and the likelihood that conditions of release will be followed by you. Factors against release include criminal history, the seriousness of the crime, risk of harm to yourself or others, risk of future criminal conduct, few or no ties to the community, evidence that you are likely not to appear in court in the future (foreign citizen), or a history of failing to appear for court in other criminal matters.