The Arrest Process: From Arrest to Booking to Arraignment
A person cannot just be arrested at random. Instead, law enforcement and state officials must follow specific protocols when they want to arrest and detain a person – otherwise, they can lose their case and face a civil lawsuit for violating a person’s Constitutional rights.
The arrest process is extensive, and many steps happen before a defendant is even approached or arrested in some cases.
Understanding the process you may face upon arrest is essential, especially if this is a first-time offense. The process can be scary, intimidating, and you may find yourself willing to accept any plea just to get out of the possibility of being in jail for too long.
The most important thing to keep in mind after an arrest is that you have the right to an attorney, and you should exercise that right the moment you suspect an arrest is imminent.
What Is the Arrest and Booking Process in Albuquerque?
Misdemeanor cases and felony cases go through different phases. However, misdemeanor cases often end with citations and not always arrests. Therefore, this focuses more on felony arrests and severe misdemeanor cases that would require jail time.
The Investigation Process
Before someone is arrested, law enforcement may have an investigation phase. They will investigate a probable suspect and determine if a crime was committed. Sometimes, the investigation process is short, such as responding to a 911 call and interviewing the victim at the scene. Other times, the investigation is more complex and takes weeks or months to complete and requires court subpoenas and in-house reviews.
Unfortunately, there are times when no investigation happens or too little of an investigation occurs. A person is arrested, accused of a crime, and then put into jail.
This is why it is crucial that you contact an attorney the moment you suspect you are the target of an investigation. If police are questioning you, you have the right not to answer until you have legal representation present in the interrogation. Exercise this right and help protect yourself from an unlawful arrest.
Arrest and Filing the Criminal Complaint
Officers may arrest you and then file a criminal complaint with the local courts. This is when the officers have to arrest on the scene and do not have to complete an investigation – known as probable cause. If the officer has enough reasonable suspicion that you did commit a crime, they can arrest you then and there.
Other times, felony arrests are made through warrants. An officer would secure a warrant from the court, often after an investigation, and show the court that they have probable cause to get the court’s permission to arrest the alleged defendant.
The criminal complaint is a brief of the case. It has a description of any event leading to the charges presented, titles/names of those involved, and the names of the crimes you have allegedly committed and their statutory references. The charging document, which is also issued, starts the criminal case process.
Booking and Staying in Jail
When you are arrested, you are taken to a detention center for the municipality where you are arrested. For example, if you are arrested in Albuquerque, you may go to the Bernalillo County Metropolitan Detention Center. Here you are processed and booked.
Before you enter, you will have to go through a search, which means an officer will search you for drugs and weapons then take all personal belongings. They record each item removed from you, and the detention center retains these items until your release.
As a defendant, you are required to provide fingerprints during the booking process. Also, law enforcement will do a background check and look to see if you have outstanding warrants in other jurisdictions, including federal warrants. You also get the opportunity for a phone call, but it is collect. Therefore, you should realize most people will not accept collect calls – but an attorney’s office would.
First Court Appearance: Arraignment
Your first appearance in court depends on how you were arrested. If a warrant was not used for your arrest, then you must appear in front of a judge within 48 hours of the arrest for the judge to determine whether probable cause existed and the arrest was lawful. Usually, it only requires the police officer’s testimony as to why they arrested you without securing a warrant and their justification for probable cause.
During your first hearing, the judge will inform you of:
- The offenses you have allegedly committed;
- The penalty by law for those crimes you are charged with;
- Your rights to bail (if bail is granted);
- Your right to a trial by a jury of your peers;
- Your right to hire an attorney for assistance in your case;
- Your right to hire a state attorney that is covered by the state (public defender);
- Your right to know that anything you say can be used against you; and
- Your right to a preliminary hearing.
Preliminary hearings are granted no later than ten days after your first appearance and no more than 60 days after if you are not in custody. Therefore, if you are released on bail, then your preliminary hearing may be up to two months away. If you were not granted bail, then you would stay in jail but the court would have to provide a preliminary hearing within ten days of your arrest.
Hire a Criminal Defense Attorney, Immediately
Being arrested is scary, overwhelming, and confusing. You do not want to have to guess what you should do next or worry if your rights are violated. Instead, hire an attorney who is there to defend you and serve as your advocate.
New Mexico Criminal Law Offices is here to help you with your case. We represent clients through investigations and to their trial. Having an attorney’s help earlier in the case can lessen the charges, and in some cases, reduce the chances you are arrested.
Call our team now to schedule your free consultation or reach out to us online.