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Criminal Law Blog

What Should You Do (or Not Do)?

October 20, 2017

Getting arrested is a scary experience, and the anxiety of the arrest could cause you to do something that worsens your situation, especially if you know that you’re innocent. Therefore, it’s helpful to know what you should do, and—perhaps more importantly—what not to do when you are being confronted by law enforcement. The following guide will provide you with some helpful tips to get through your arrest, so you can build the strongest defense possible when you appear in court.

Know the Role of the Police

Though law enforcement does exist to protect people, you should not assume that the police are on your side when you’ve been arrested. Police officers are trained to use a wide variety of communication and intimidation tactics to get suspected criminals to confess or unwittingly provide information and evidence of the crime. When you talk to the police, only provide your most basic identifying information. You are not obligated to say anything else, and you should avoid doing so until you have a lawyer present.

Know What Not to Do

It can feel tempting to try and convince the police of your innocence or even run from an approaching officer. However, these actions can cause serious ramifications later and make it more difficult to present a convincing case in the courtroom.

  • Don’t Resist – Under no circumstances should you physically attempt to resist arrest. Do not touch or threaten an officer in any way, because this is itself a crime. Regardless of your innocence in other charges, you may face criminal charges if you attempt to resist arrest. Both passive obstruction and violent behavior toward a police officer can be considered resisting lawful arrest.
  • Don’t Run – You should never underestimate the resources of law enforcement and assume that you can run. It is likely that you will get caught in an attempt to flee from arrest, whether you are being arrested at the scene of a crime, your home, or your workplace. If you do get caught attempting to run from the police, you will not come off well in court, since fleeing is not often the action of innocent individuals.
  • Don’t Let the Police into Your Home – The police may arrive at your home if there is a warrant for your arrest, but it’s important to recognize how warrants may work. It may be that an arrest warrant is needed to arrest you in your home, but you may be arrested if you step outside. Therefore, you should not allow the police to come in, and you should not step out of your home. If police arrive at your home in response to a report of a crime like domestic violence, you should not let them inside. Simply cooperate with officers to avoid an unwanted search of your property that could be used to gather evidence against you.
  • Don’t Talk – In nearly every movie and television show featuring an arrest on screen, you will hear the line “Anything you say can and will be used against you.” This line holds truth, because police will be listening to everything you say during your arrest very carefully, and they may try to lead you to say certain things. Utilize your right to stay silent, and never do any of the following:

Try to convince the police that you are innocent – Whether you are guilty or not, your arrest is not the time to defend your innocence. You will be considered innocent until proven guilty in court, so don’t try to persuade police officers at the time of your arrest. 

Threaten or insult police officers – Though it is incredibly stressful to be arrested, you should not take out your stress on law enforcement. Do not talk smack or utter insults, and never say anything that could be considered a threat, such as “You’ll be sorry.” In some cases, police officers may try to provoke suspects into speaking out, but remaining silent will give them nothing to work with.

Answer non-essential questions – The police may ask you many leading questions to try and get the information they are looking for, and even if you answer a question non-truthfully, the answer can be used against you in court. Your best bet is to stay quiet or respond to questioning with a request for a lawyer.

  • Don’t Allow Permission to Search – Typically, a search warrant must be obtained through court to allow police to search your property. If, however, you provide verbal permission to search your car or home, they may immediately begin a search. This type of search could add to your charges if police uncover illegal firearms or drugs. You may not even realize that these items are in your home or vehicle if they were left behind by a friend or family member, but you can still be charged with drug possession for drugs that are not yours that are found on your property.

Know Who to Call

It may take some time before you are allowed to contact anyone after you have been arrested and booked. Still, you should know who to call once you are able to use the phone. Your first call may be to a criminal defense lawyer, and this is a smart strategy. Your lawyer can help you understand the gravity of your charges and the steps needed to release you from custody. If you can make multiple phone calls, it is also advisable to contact an immediate family member, such as a spouse, parent, or sibling. This individual may need to post bail or otherwise assist in your release. You might also provide the contact information of this individual to your lawyer to ensure that he or she is kept up to date on your situation.

If you have been arrested in Tucson or the surrounding areas, make your first call to Janet Altschuler at (520) 247-1789. Ms. Altschuler is a leading criminal defense attorney in Southern Arizona, and she specializes exclusively in criminal law with 20 years of experience serving clients from all walks of life.

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