10 Things to Do If You Have Been Arrested
If you or someone you love is the suspect of a crime and have been arrested, read this information before talking with the police or entering a plea bargain.
It is natural to feel intimidated, and law enforcement wants you to feel scared. After all, a scared person is more likely to admit to a crime, which makes the job of proving their guilt easier in court.
Despite the fear, you cannot give in. Instead, consider these ten things you must do immediately after an arrest or the second you know you are a suspect in an active investigation.
1. Realize Innocent People Do Get Arrested
You may not have done the crime, and you are not alone.
Innocent people are arrested daily in the U.S., but that doesn’t mean they serve prison sentences. Sometimes during their first hearing, the case is dismissed, other times a person does go to prison. The key factor here is representation. If you have an attorney by your side, you can fight the allegations. An attorney can poke holes in the alleged evidence, and you may get the charges dismissed and clear your name.
2. Stay Quiet, Do Not Give a Statement, and Exercise Your Right to an Attorney
When you are the suspect of a crime, do not provide a statement. Even if you are innocent, facts are elusive and can be interpreted differently. Your statement and anything you tell law enforcement can be used against you in court.
Instead, exercise your right to an attorney. And until your attorney is present, remain silent. Even if law enforcement acts like they want to help, do not sign a waiver and wait for your attorney to arrive.
3. Know That Your Silence Is Not an Admission of Guilt
Most people fear that, if they remain silent, their silence will be used against them in court. Silence cannot be used against you, but what you say can. Even an outright denial of the alleged crime may be used against you, especially if you use blanket denials such as “I don’t remember.”
The only thing you should say is that you want an attorney.
4. Law Enforcement Can Mislead You
Law enforcement uses falsehoods all the time to get someone to confess, so do not think that everything they tell you is the truth. Insist on talking with an attorney. Because once an attorney is in the room, law enforcement will not be able to play the same games they would when a defendant is alone.
5. Do Not Let Law Enforcement in Your Home, and Do Not Step Outside
If an officer shows at your house and requests you to step outside, or they ask if they can just look around and prove your innocence, do not oblige. Police must have an arrest warrant to arrest you in your home. The only time they can arrest without one is if they have exigent circumstances.
Likewise, officers need search warrants to look in your home for evidence. However, if you give permission, then they can use that as a lawful entry and collect evidence without a warrant.
6. Know Your Miranda Rights
Everyone has Miranda rights upon arrest and even while they are in custody without an arrest. If law enforcement has detained you for questioning, your Miranda rights are active. If you are not informed of your rights while being detained, anything you say cannot be used against you.
Law enforcement does not have to inform you of your rights if you are not in custody. Therefore, casually talking with you outside your home is not a Miranda situation, but what you say could still be used against you.
7. Ask if You Are Free to Leave
If you were questioned at the police station or anywhere outside of your home, ask officers if you are free to leave. If they say that you are, walk away. If law enforcement says no or they continue to ask questions without letting you leave, request an attorney.
8. You Have the Right to Reasonable Phone Calls
The age-old “you have one call” after arrest is not always true. Instead, you have the opportunity to make a reasonable number of calls to inform family where you are and to contact your attorney. If you go from the police station to a holding center to a detention center, you have the right to call your lawyer at each location and notify them of where you are.
9. Be Polite and Courteous
While you are upset and you have law enforcement accusing you of a crime, be polite and never appear combative. When defendants are combative, rude, or even offensive, it makes it harder to disprove the allegations against them. Likewise, if you are violent with law enforcement or resist arrest, that can be used to say that you are violent in nature and more likely to have committed a crime.
Being polite does not mean you are guilty, and not resisting arrest cannot be used as an admission of guilt, either.
10. Do Not Give into Threats
Law enforcement cannot coerce a suspect into pleading guilty, but it does happen. While you might be scared, do not let officers scare you into admitting guilt to anything – whether you did it or not. Instead, stay strong, and wait for your attorney to arrive.
Arrested? Call an Attorney Now
If you or a loved one has been arrested, call a defense attorney immediately. The sooner you get an attorney involved, the better the outcome might be in your case. While no attorney can guarantee a dismissal, they can protect your rights, ensure you are not coerced into giving a statement, and prevent you from giving evidence that can be used against you in court.
Call New Mexico Criminal Law Offices now for a consultation or request more information online.