What You Should Know and Do If Arrested
Being arrested or detained by the police is a frightening experience. Here are a few things you should know.
An arrest occurs when a law enforcement officer takes you into custody and you are not free to go. If you are suspected of being involved in a crime, you can also be legally detained for a short period of time for questioning without being arrested.
To arrest you, the officer needs probable cause and an arrest warrant. The most notable exception to this rule is when the officer sees you commit a crime.
A Warrant Is Usually Required
Law enforcement can arrest you without a warrant if there is probable cause or good reason to believe you committed a serious crime. Police can make arrests without a warrant if fast action is needed to prevent a suspect from escaping, destroying evidence, endangering someone’s life or seriously damaging property.
An arrest warrant is usually required before you can be taken into custody from your home. After knocking, the officer must identify himself or herself and tell you that you are going to be arrested. You can ask to see the warrant before opening the door. If you refuse, the officer can break into your home.
Miranda Rights Must Be Read
The U.S. Constitution guarantees Miranda rights to adult citizens and non-citizens who are arrested. Before a law enforcement officer questions you, he or she should tell you:
- You have the right to remain silent.
- Anything you say may be used against you.
- You have a right to have a lawyer present while you are questioned.
- If you cannot afford a lawyer, one will be appointed for you.
You do not have to make an excuse, provide an alibi or make any statements at all. You do not have to answer any questions except to give your name and address and show some identification. Neither does a passenger in your car. You can ask for an attorney. Anything else you say to yourself or to anyone else in the police car or a jail cell is admissible evidence.
Do not sign anything that hasn’t been reviewed by your lawyer.
If you choose to waive your rights and answer questions, any of those statements can be used against you in court. Tell the truth. Do not provide false documents. Providing false information to a police officer is a crime in and of itself.
Do Not Resist Arrest
If you are arrested, stay calm. Do not resist, touch, threaten or argue with any police officer. Do not try to run away. Keep your hands where the police can see them. Resisting arrest or detention is a crime in its own right, even if you are innocent of the crime for which you have been arrested. An officer can use force to overcome resistance or prevent escape.
Permission Usually Needed to Search
To search you or your vehicle without your permission, the police must have a search warrant or have arrested you, or have probable cause that you committed a crime. When you are arrested, an officer can seize any evidence of a crime that is in plain sight.
In any other situation, you have the right to refuse to consent to a search of your car or your home. If you are arrested at home, go outside and do not invite the officers inside. Do not accept an offer to return to your home or car to retrieve any items. The police can escort you and then search for evidence that is in plain sight.
You Get One Phone Call
When you are booked, your arrest is written into official police records. You then have the right to make and complete a telephone call within the local dialing area. Phone calls and other conversations will likely be recorded.
After your arrest and booking, you will be taken to court for bail setting. If you don’t have or can’t afford a lawyer, the court will appoint a public defender. At this time, bail will be set or you will be released on your own recognizance. If you cannot post bail, you will be kept in custody.
Call a Criminal Defense Lawyer
The laws surrounding arrest for a crime are complicated. Plus, the facts of each case are unique. This article provides a brief, general introduction to the topic. For more detailed, specific information, please contact a criminal defense lawyer.