What Rights do I Have After I am Arrested?

Updated on 08/09/2023 / Under

Being arrested is when a police officer takes you into custody and prohibits you from leaving the scene. The police do not need to announce that they have arrested you, nor does an arrest obligate the use of handcuffs or physical restraint.

Sometimes, the police can hold you back without arresting you – this is referred to as ‘detainment’. The police might arrest you if they think you are guilty of a crime. The police will make you sign a citation, which would essentially be an agreement to appear in court at some later date.

Although not considered to be an arrest, a detainment does allow police officers to search their suspect or his belongings. Getting arrested can be a stressful and frightening experience, which might make citizens behave irrationally and compound the trouble.

To stay calm and composed, it is essential that you understand your rights beforehand; in this article, we will discuss exactly that, alongside other vital tips and suggestions.

Why Are Arrests Necessary?

There are certain situations in which an arrest becomes unavoidable. These are:

  • Law enforcement can arrest a person if they need to ensure that they show up at trial.
  • If the authorities feel that an individual is a threat to the people around him, they might arrest him as a preventative action.
  • If a person has been accused of or has committed a crime, the police can make an arrest to obtain the person’s correct name and address (which he has a right to refuse to provide during interrogation).
  • A person obstructing an on-duty police officer from performing his duty can be arrested on-the-spot.
  • Any law enforcement officer can arrest a person who has escaped or is attempting to escape from custody. No warrant or other special orders are required under such a scenario.

The Process of Arresting Someone

When the law enforcement officer has sufficient probable cause against a suspect, they can arrest him. Probable cause refers to a reasonable amount of belief that that particular suspect has actually committed the crime. You might have noticed in TV shows that, as soon as the police observe criminal activity, they go ahead and arrest the suspect.

Chicago criminal defense lawyer Alex Ktenas

In reality, however, there is a bit of time lag between the illegal activity and an arrest, as the police are required to investigate the suspect further or come up with evidence. Suppose the police want to arrest someone at their residence.

In that case, they need to produce an arrest warrant (a court order that is issued by the judge after hearing statements made under oath) and also announce their purpose after knocking at the door. This is a general rule, but the police are allowed to sidestep it in special situations, such as when there is a possibility of evidence destruction, or human lives are in danger.

How to Prepare for A Potential Arrest?

If you feel that you might be arrested, get yourself and your family members prepared. Make sure to memorize all significant phone numbers, especially those of your lawyer and immediate family members. If you take medication or have children, plan accordingly.

If you are arrested, we recommend exercising your right to silence and asking for a lawyer. Remember, you do not need to give any justifications or excuses for anything. If you cannot pay for a lawyer, inform the police officers and demand that they arrange one for you. Acquiring the counsel of an experienced criminal defense attorney is highly recommended if you are anticipating an arrest.

Your Rights When Arrested

  • The right to remain silent: This means that you do not need to answer any questions you do not want to. For instance, if the police stop your car, they might ask you about your residence, where you were returning from, and where you were headed when they stopped you. If you do not want to speak and wish to exercise this right to remain silent, let the police officer know that explicitly. In some states, you might be required to state your name or provide identification regardless of whether you choose to invoke this right.
  • The right to disallow a search: The police might want to search for you, but, if you wish, you can deny the consent. The police still might pat your clothes to make sure that you are not carrying a concealed weapon. Not giving permission to search might still not prevent the police officer from going ahead with the search but objecting during or before an examination will protect your rights in any subsequent legal proceedings.
  • The right to a lawyer: You are allowed to contact your lawyer before you have to answer any questions. If you do not have a lawyer or cannot afford one, it is the state's duty to provide you with a lawyer. If the government does not make every possible effort to get in touch with your lawyer or provide you with one, anything you say or do will be considered inadmissible and cannot be used against you.
  • The right to a phone call: The police must let you make one local phone call. If that phone call is to your lawyer, your conversation shall be privileged, and the police cannot listen in to what is being said. However, if that call is to anyone other than your lawyer, the police are allowed to and will listen to the conversation.

Miranda rights must be read by law enforcement officers to individuals when they are arrested. Issues can arise when a police officer fails to properly Mirandize an arrested person.

“You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you. Do you understand the rights I have just read to you? With these rights in mind, do you wish to speak to me?”

What Should You Do If You Think Your Rights Are Being Violated?

Write down everything you can or make a mental note of as many data points as you can. This might include any information about the law enforcement officers in charge, such as their badge and car numbers, the agency to which the officers belonged, and any other relevant details.

Also, if the police have physically hurt or injured you, make sure to seek immediate medical attention and take as many photographs of your bruises and wounds as you can.

Next, get the contact details for witnesses, and file a written complaint with the agency’s civilian complaint department or the internal affairs department. If you do not wish to be identified, you will be allowed to file an anonymous complaint in most cases.

How Can an Arrested Person Attain Freedom?

Once you have been arrested, you can obtain freedom if the government dismisses the charges lifted against you. If this does not happen, you will have to follow the requisite legal procedures to be released. The said procedures might include releasing the suspect subject to bail, or on the suspect's recognizance.

Of course, the suspect will be released if he is proven innocent, or if the suspect enters into a plea bargain or deal that permits him freedom from custody.

To conclude, your best chance of minimizing damage from an arrest is by staying calm, especially when you know you have done nothing wrong. Make sure that your first action upon getting arrested should be to call your attorney and explain the situation as best as possible. The earlier your criminal defense lawyer gets involved, the better chance he has of getting you out of your jam.