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Expert advice when arrested by the police

Arrested by the police? Be smart...

Being detained and arrested by the police is serious no matter what the offense and charge. If you are arrested you need to follow this expert advice to ensure you protect your rights, be smart and not do anything that will make things worse. Remember the police are just doing their job, but they know the law better than you.


Do immediately ask for a lawyer

When arrested, the police should advise you of your Miranda rights. These include you right to remain silent and your right to an attorney. Other than providing police with your name, if asked, you should immediately ask to speak to a lawyer and advise the police that you do not wish to answer any questions. If you cannot afford an attorney, the court will appoint an attorney to your case.  Repeat this request when you reach the police station, and especially during the booking process when they take your finger-prints and mug shot. Do not ask any questions or make any statements to the police. You will need a criminal defense lawyer and with the experience and expertise to defend your case.

Do be polite and do not resist

When being arrested you must remain calm, cooperative and polite. Refer to the arresting officer as sir or ma'am. Do not resist arrest in any way. If you do, the police have the right to use force, which will be highly unpleasant and potentially dangerous for you. Remember, the police carry firearms and are authorized to use them if necessary.  Resisting arrest will result in more charges against you which can be prosecuted, even if the original charges are dropped.

Never ever run from an arresting officer. If you do, you will have additional charges filed against you and the officers are authorized to use force including using their firearms to arrest you.

Do know how to post bail

Once in custody, you will be taken in front of a judge as quickly as possible for a hearing that is typically called an “arraignment” or “initial appearance”.  At this hearing, the judge will determine if there is sufficient evidence to support probable cause for the arrest.

If the judge determines there is insufficient evidence to support probable cause, the charges will be dismissed and you are free to go.  If the judge decides there is sufficient probable cause, you will either be remanded to custody and be held in a detention facility until your trial or you will be released on your “own recognizance” or released if you can post bail.

Bail is a cash amount of money set by the judge that the defendant must surrender to the court to be released from jail with the promise to return for all subsequent court hearings.  If you miss a court hearing, the bail can be forfeited and you will be re-arrested for “failing to appear”. When your case is decided, then the bail is returned to you. For large bail amounts many people will use a bail bond.


Do not touch the officer

When being arrested never under any circumstances should you touch the officer.  The officer can perceive this as a physical threat and is permitted to use force to subdue you and this could be extremely unpleasant and even dangerous for you.  Also, you will face additional charges such as resisting arrest and battery of the police officer.

Do not answer any questions

After you have been arrested, ask for a lawyer. Do not say anything else until you are at the police station, and then repeat your request for a lawyer. Do not answer any questions asked by the police without your lawyer present.

Remember, everything you say to the police can and will be used against you at the court trial. Do not talk to anyone else you meet in the detention facility because anyone can be called to testify against you. Do not sign any document presented to you by the police without first consulting with your lawyer.

Do not make any threats

No matter what the circumstances, do not make any threats of any kind towards the officer during the arrest or after. This includes everything from personal remarks to insinuating a lawsuit.  Any threats will be taken seriously and will only cause the police to ensure they charge you with every possible charge associated with the arrest and your behavior.

Do not panic

Being arrested and taken to a detention facility for booking and then an arraignment in front of a judge is very stressful and upsetting.  Try not to panic.  While it may be new to you, for the police officers and everyone you interact with it is a standard process they have followed many times. If, however, you are hurt before or during the arrest, do immediately ask for medical treatment.  If you have a preexisting medical condition that requires medication such as asthma, or a heart condition, you are prone to panic attacks, or have other conditions, inform the police officers immediately when arrested.

Do not miss any court appearances

You are obligated to appear for all court appearances related to your arrest.  Your lawyer will advise and inform you as to when these appearances are scheduled.  If you are unable to make a court appearance, your lawyer can petition the court to move a hearing  If your petition is denied, then you must appear.  Failure to appear can result in a bench warrant for your arrest, a charge of bail jumping being filed against you, and you can forfeit your bail.  If you are arrested for failing to appear at a hearing, there is a chance you will not be awarded bail again and you could remain in jail until your trial.

Jumping cartoon

Getting arrested is very stressful and foreign to most people. You need to remain as calm as possible, do not resist the police officers, ask for a lawyer and keep your mouth shut. Be ready to contact someone to help you post bail to be released from jail and make sure you show up to every court appearance requiring your presence. Remember, even though you have been charged with a crime, you are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. After an arrest, prepare yourself for a long, arduous process that will take time to resolve. Try not to panic, follow the direction of your lawyer and you will survive this stressful period in your life.

More expert advice about Criminal Law

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Mark MestelCriminal Defense Attorney

Mark D. Mestel has over 30 years of criminal defense experience. Since 1977, Mr. Mestel has personally handled hundreds of felony cases. Mark Mestel attended four years of college at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, graduating ...

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