No one ever imagines that one day they could be arrested; after all, only “criminals” are arrested. Moreover, it’s very common for people to believe that if someone is arrested they probably “did it.” So when you find yourself in that situation it can be an unreal and frighting experience. More likley than not you will be asking yourself a question you never thought you’d need the answer for: What do you do when you are arrested?
As soon as you are detained, as soon as the handcuffs come on, here are some steps you may seriously want to consider to help you in case a criminal charges are filed against you …
Step 1: Assert you’re right to remain silent. How do you this? Just say “officer I would like to assert my right to remain silent.” Why do this? The police are required to tell you “anything say can and will be used against you” for a good reason: everything you say will absolutely be used against you. In fact, under the rules of evidence what you say to the police cannot be used “for you”, only “against you.” If what one says can only hurt them why talk? Moreover, even honest attempts to explain your situation or delineate the truth can have disastrous consequences. For a great lecture on just how these can happen check out: Don’t Talk to the Police.
Step 2: Assert your right to an attorney. The right to remain silent and the right to an attorney are different rights! They actually trigger different legal protections. For example, if you ask for an attorney the police cannot ask you any questions until you get one. Where as, if you assert your right to remain silent, the police still can ask you questions about matters other than those you are detained for. Better safe than sorry and consider asserting both your right to an attorney and your right to remian silent.
Step 3: Actually get an attorney. Under the U.S. Constitution you always have the right to have an attorney. You also have a right to defend yourself. However, this may not be the best idea. Judges handbooks advise judges to tell folks representing themselves: “Self-representation is almost always unwise and the defendant may conduct a defense to his or her own detriment …” ( See 19A CAL. JUR. 3D Criminal Law § 109 (2001)) Either way seriously consider actually getting a public defender or private counsel.
These are of course only some of the first steps that may be necessary to conduct a valid defense. Other matters such as lowering bail, whether to have a trial, or who to communicate with and how, are almost always determined on a case by case basis. If you or a loved one have been arrested and do not know what to do, feel free to contact any of the attorneys at Jones & Devoy for a free initial consultation.