Ten Things NOT to Do When Arrested STAFF PICK

Brian Richard Dinday

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Criminal Defense Attorney

Contributor Level 16

Posted over 5 years ago. 74 helpful votes

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1

Save Your Breath

Don't try to convince the officer of your innocence. It's useless. He or she only needs "probable cause" to believe you have committed a crime in order to arrest you. He does not decide your guilt and he actually doesn't care if you are innocent or not. It is the job of the judge or jury to free you if he is wrong. If you feel that urge to convince him he's made a mistake, remember the overwhelming probability that instead you will say at least one thing that will hurt your case, perhaps even fatally. It is smarter to save your defense for your lawyer.

2

Don't Run

Don't try to escape the police. It's highly unlikely a suspect could outrun ten radio cars converging on a block in mere seconds. I saw a case where a passenger being driven home by a drunk friend bolted and ran. Why? It was the driver they wanted, and she needlessly risked injury in a forceful arrest. Even worse, the police might have suspected she ran because she had a gun, perhaps making them too quick to draw their own firearms. Most police will just arrest a runner, but there are some who will be mad they had to work so hard and injure the suspect unnecessarily.

3

Enjoy a QUIET Ride To The Police Station

Keep quiet. My hardest criminal defense cases are those where the arrested person got very talkative. Incredibly, many will start babbling without the police having asked a single question. My most vivid memory of this problem was the armed robbery suspect who blurted to police: "How could the guy identify me? The robbers were wearing masks." To which the police smiled and responded, "Oh? Were they?" Judges and juries will discount or ignore what a suspect says that helps him, but give great weight to anything that seems to hurt him. In 34 years as a criminal lawyer and thousands of cases, I could count on one hand the number of times a suspect was released because of what he told the police after they arrested him.

4

Don't Give Permission To Search

Don't give permission to search anywhere. If they ask, it probably means they don't believe they have the right to search and need your consent. If you are ordered to hand over your keys, state loudly "You do NOT have my permission to search." If bystanders hear you, whatever the police find may be excluded from evidence later. This is also a good reason not to talk when they find something incriminating, even if it seems all is lost.

5

Don't Be An Active Participant in Searches

If the police are searching your car or home, don't look at the places you wish they wouldn't search. Don't react to the search at all, and especially not to questions like "Who does this belong to?"

6

Don't Resist Arrest

Don't resist arrest. Above all, do not push the police or try to swat their hands away. That would be assaulting an officer and any slight injury to them will turn your minor misdemeanor arrest into a felony charge. A petty shoplifter can wind up going to state prison that way. Passively resisting arrest (such as pulling away) is merely a misdemeanor charge and often the police do not even charge that offense, but obviously striking an officer can result in serious injury to you as well.

7

Don't Be Verbally Abusive to Police

Try to resist the temptation to mouth off at the police, even if you have been wrongly arrested. Police have a lot of discretion in what charges are brought. They can change a misdemeanor to a felony charge, add misdemeanor charges, or even take the trouble to talk directly to the prosecutor and urge him to go hard on you. On the other hand, I have seen a client who was friendly to the police and talked sports and such on the way to the station. They gave him a break. Notice he did not talk about his case, however.

8

Yes, Virginia, Police Do Lie

Do not believe what the police tell you in order to get you to talk. The law permits them to lie to a suspect in order to get him to make admissions about a criminal charge. For example, they will separate two friends who have been arrested and tell the first one that the second one squealed on him. The first one then squeals on the second, though in truth the second one never said anything. An even more common example is telling a suspect that if he talks to the police, "it will go easier." Well, that's sort of true. It will be much easier for the police to prove their criminal charges. I can't remember too many cases where the prosecutor gave the defendant an easier deal because he waived his right to silence and confessed. On the contrary: it gives him an even stronger bargaining position.

9

Your Home Is Your Castle

If at home, do not invite the police inside. If the police believe you have committed a felony, they usually need an arrest warrant to go into your home to arrest you. If you accept their invitation to "step outside", you will have solved that problem for them. The correct responses are: "I am comfortable talking right here.", "No, you may not come in.", or "Do you have a warrant to enter or to arrest me in my home?" I am not suggesting that you run. In fact, that is the best way to ensure a harsher punishment later on. But you may not find it so convenient to be arrested Friday night when all the courts and law offices are closed. With an attorney, you can perhaps surrender after bail arrangements are made and spend NO time in custody while your case is pending.

10

Some Police Courtesies Should Be Declined

If you are arrested outside your home, do not accept any offers to let you go inside to get dressed, change, get a jacket, call your wife, or any other reason. The police will of course escort you inside and then search everywhere they please, again without a warrant. Likewise decline offers to park or secure your car safely, if it is legally parked and you do not want it searched.

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