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The Dos and Don’ts of Being Arrested

August 23, 2019

Being arrested is not an experience that anyone wants to go through, especially if you know that you are innocent of the crime you’re being arrested for. Unfortunately, many people do not have in-depth knowledge of the criminal justice system, so they don’t know what steps to take when they have been arrested. More importantly, they don’t understand how easily they can be coaxed into saying or doing something that can later be used against them. Whether you have committed a crime or not, there are some key dos and don’ts to keep in mind when you have been put under arrest. 

Do: Understand Your Rights

As soon as you are arrested, you will be read your rights. If you are not, then you should notify your attorney as soon as possible. 

One of your rights upon being arrested is the right to remain silent. Yet, many people feel that they should try to outwardly defend their innocence, so they choose to waive this right. However, it is important to say only as much as you need to once you have been placed under arrest. For example, you might provide your name and address to the police officers and answer any basic questions they ask but refuse to answer questions about the crime you’ve been charged with.  

Do: Call an Attorney as Soon as Possible

Another of your rights is the right to an attorney. However, arresting officers may try to delay you from getting to a phone to contact your attorney right away. When you are questioned by officers, simply tell them that you refuse to answer questions without your lawyer present. As soon as you are able, call your attorney to assist you. Do not provide extensive details about your arrest to your lawyer over the phone. Wait to speak in person to discuss your case in depth.

It may seem tempting to call a relative or bondsman first when you are arrested, so that you can make bail and get out of a holding cell sooner. However, your attorney can start making those arrangements on your behalf, and they may be able to negotiate reduced bail or push up your arraignment hearing so that you are released in a timely fashion. 

Don’t: Get Friendly with Police Officers

Police officers are trained in many intimidation and manipulation tactics to get individuals to talk. Therefore, it might seem like an officer genuinely wants to stand up for you and befriend you or get your side of the story. However, any information you provide can still be used as evidence against you later, so you should still refuse to answer questions unless your lawyer is present. 

Don’t: Insult or Argue with Police Officers

Being arrested is a frustrating process. You may feel scared and angry, and those emotions can cause you to react poorly with a physical or verbal outburst directed at the police. Unfortunately, this can immediately make you guilty of another crime—assaulting a police officer. Even if you weren’t guilty of the charges you were initially arrested for, arguing with a police officer could have you facing new charges. So, as difficult as it may be, try to remain calm throughout the arrest process. 

Don’t: Try to Advocate for Your Innocence 

The time of your arrest is not the time to argue for your innocence. While you are technically innocent until proven guilty, the legal process does not allow you to argue your innocence directly with an arresting officer. Instead, you should hire a criminal defense attorney to fight for you within the proper channels. At the time of your arrest, resisting in any way will generally only result in a more forceful arresting process. 

Don’t: Consent to a Search or Any Tests 

Just because an officer has a warrant for your arrest does not mean that they have the right to search your property. Upon your arrest, you should calmly and clearly state that you do not provide consent for the officers to search your car or your home. Additionally, being arrested does not automatically mean that you must consent to DNA testing or drug/alcohol testing. Your lawyer can effectively advise you if you should submit to these types of tests. 

Having the number of a trusted criminal attorney can help you remain calm and start building a solid defense as soon as you have been arrested. Janet Altschuler is solely focused on criminal defense, and she has more than 20 years of experience navigating the Pima County justice system. Make her office your first call if you are arrested or questioned by the police. Call (520) 247-1789.