Criminal Law Guide: Arrest Tips
Be polite and courteous with policeDon't give any reason to escalate the situation. Don't complain
about the stop or arrest or argue with the police. Stay calm;
control your emotions. Stay in view of the officers, keep your
hands in plain sight, and don't make any quick or jerky
Do NOT resist arrest or touch the officerEven if you are innocent, do NOT resist arrest. It will only add
more charges and make your legal situation more difficult for
your lawyer. Do NOT touch or threaten the officer, as the police
will add "assault & battery on an officer" charges, which alone
carry significant punishments. Do NOT "run" under any
circumstances. If you run, innocent or not, the jury can be told
you fled the scene.
Do NOT give a voluntary statementYou are NOT required to talk to the police when questioned
about a crime. Exercise your rights because you cannot be
prosecuted for refusing to give a statement, but you can be
prosecuted for giving a false or misleading statement. If you do
give a statement, it can be used against you.
The Miranda warnings do NOT apply to voluntary statements. If
you are not under arrest or otherwise "in custody," then those
statements can be used against you even without reading the
Miranda warnings ("your rights") to you. Anything you say likely
will be tape recorded or videotaped with or without your
To avoid problems and legal fees later, don't give any voluntary
statements. (Likewise, do NOT discuss facts of an alleged crime
with anyone else including family members and friends. There is
no privilege to protect your statements to these persons, so
exercise your right to silence).
Do NOT allow searches or seizuresThe Fourth Amendment protects you from unreasonable
searches and seizures. Unless an officer presents proper
credentials and a search warrant, do NOT allow any search of
your body, home, garage, business, computer, car, boat or other
dwelling or conveyance or property.
ONLY when the police have a valid search warrant signed by a
judge is it appropriate to give permission to search. If there is a
warrant, ask to read the papers before granting permission so
that you know the scope of the warrant. Then ask the officers if
you may watch as they search and ask to call your lawyer before
the search. You never know whether your spouse, children or
perhaps a friend or acquaintance (or even a stranger) may have
placed or left contraband or other evidence of crime in or on
Although less likely, a "bad" officer could also "plant" evidence;
therefore, NEVER allow a search UNLESS the office has a
Do NOT interfere with or obstruct the policeDo NOT interfere with the officer's investigation or interrupt the
officer while he/she is interviewing others or searching.
Generally speak only when asked (see above--do not give a
voluntary statement) and do not assist in showing items or
documents or explaining what happened. Do NOT attempt to
obstruct the officers in their duties or to destroy evidence or
contraband. Keep to yourself and mind your business. Interfering
or obstruction an officer in his official duty is a separate crime.
Do NOT give any samples: Body Fluids, Blood, Fingerprints, Handwriting Samples, Clothing or Shoes, etc.The Fourth Amendment protects against unreasonable searches
and seizures, and the Fifth Amendment protects against
While these samples may possibly be
compelled by the court, do NOT give samples (1) without
obtaining a lawyer to represent your interest or (2) without a
court order. Even with counsel, there are situations when
samples simply should NOT be given. Samples given with your
permission are admissible in court.
Also be careful because forensic sciences are not without fault.
There are numerous cases in Massachusetts and throughout
the U.S. where innocent people have been wrongfully convicted
and even sentenced to life imprisonment or death on flimsy hair
or other samples.
Do NOT take a polygraph or lie-detector testA polygraph is NOT admissible in court. Even if you pass a
polygraph, police will not necessarily clear you. Because there
are ways to "beat" the test, the police will not rule you out if you
are a suspect.