Most people don’t enjoy encounters with police, whether they actually committed any criminal acts or are obeying the law. In fact, being arrested can be a traumatic event. Many people fear 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 take the steps necessary to ensure that all of your rights, including your right to remain silent, are protected if police do arrest you. Taking these steps can increase your chances of achieving a positive outcome that allows you to move on with your life.
Compliance with a lawful arrest is important. Try to stay calm, remain quiet, and follow the orders given by the arresting officer. Do not resist arrest, or you could face additional charges like assaulting a police officer.
Do not engage in any activity, verbal or physical, which could be construed as threatening, insulting, or otherwise aggressive. Your best place to contest criminal charges is in court, and any altercation between yourself and arresting officers can make things much worse for you.
Remember the details of your arrest as clearly as possible, particularly if the arresting officer(s) are engaging in acts that you believe to be misconduct of any sort. Relaying these details to your attorney may be valuable to your case.
Do not volunteer any information to law enforcement beyond your name, address, and telephone number once they arrest you. The Fifth Amendment guarantees your right to remain silent. Additionally, a police officer should provide you with your Miranda rights. Your Miranda rights are not just a formality, but rather an important part of your arrest. The next time you speak should be to your attorney, whether it is a public defender or an attorney you hire yourself.
Police are skilled interrogators, and they know how to ask questions to confuse suspects or make it appear that a suspect is lying. It is better to only speak with your attorney and only answer questions when your attorney is present. Your attorney will be able to instruct you when to answer and what the consequences might be if you choose to speak.
While you are under no obligation to answer the questions posed by police officials, you must remain in their custody until your attorney secures your release or a judge grants you bail. 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.
While most First Amendment suits regarding recording police during an arrest have resulted in affirmative judgments, this does not mean that it is always legal to do so. However, when facing arrest, one should always note whether there is an audience present who may be recording what’s happening on their phones.
Such footage may not become available or be admissible in court, but it could be helpful if police use excessive force or obviously violate your rights in any other way. Individuals recording an arrest do so at some degree of personal risk, and they should always openly declare that they are recording the event if they choose to proceed.
Some laws protecting police, such as wiretapping laws or other privacy legislation, render undeclared recordings inadmissible in court — and in some cases, those capturing footage may find themselves facing criminal charges.
If you’ve been arrested, you do have the right to an attorney, even if you can’t afford to pay for one. Should you be facing charges without the ability to pay for personal legal counsel, the court will appoint a public defender to your case. If you’d prefer to hire a lawyer rather than be appointed one, that option is available to you.
The attorney-client privilege protects your discussions with your lawyer in almost all instances, so be sure to detail your case in full, providing all pertinent facts and observations.
An arrest and conviction can change everything. Fines or time in jail are the immediate concern, but a conviction will also mean a criminal record that can make it harder to find a job and housing for years to come. If you are arrested or learn you are under investigation, the first thing you should do is contact an experienced criminal defense attorney. You can search LawInfo’s legal directory to find a local criminal defense attorney who can protect your rights and help you determine the best way to proceed with mounting a defense.