I've just been arrested. What do I do now?
Always use your right to remain silent.Don't answer any questions. This is the United States of America, not North Korea. You have the right to stay silent. Use it. This means that you talk to NOBODY about the charges or about the events that you believe led to your arrest. Not the police. Not jail workers. Not jail inmates. Not family. Not friends. Nobody. Nearly every person you speak to can be forced by the government to testify about what you told them. And many of these people do not need to be forced because they WANT to testify about what you told them.
But not your lawyer. Unless you tell him you are about to go out and hurt somebody, your lawyer can not tell anyone anything about what you said. Ever.
Remember whatever you say WILL BE used against you to convict you of a crime.Don't be naive. You can't talk your way out of the arrest; that has already happened. Just because the police believe that they have enough to arrest you and charge you with a crime, chances are good they do not yet have enough to convict you of the crime. By talking to them, you will NEVER talk them out of charging you, but you will almost ALWAYS help them to convict you! Don't be tricked by the old lines, "If you're innocent, prove it by cooperating with us" or "If you cooperate with us, we promise you the prosecutor will 'go easy' on you." You will always come out the loser on this type of "he said/she said" situation.
Don't ever "explain" what happened. Your statements will NOT help you. Your statements will HARM you.You are innocent, you say. This is all just a big misunderstanding, you say. Being arrested and taken to jail is very stressful, and you just want this nightmare to be over. You must face the fact that this nightmare has only just begun. "Explaining" and "helping" by telling "your side of the story" will only make it worse for you. You will have your chance to explain, but not now. Never explain it to the police all alone. You must be patient. As you will see in tip no. 5 below, you need some protection BEFORE you explain.
Remember the government needs your help -- to convict you of a crime.Don't ever "help" or "cooperate." Compared to you, an average citizen, the police and the prosecutor have unlimited time and money. They don't need your help. Anything you say, like explaining, cooperating, helping, or suggesting, anything at all, is called an "admission." It means that you have admitted it or "confessed" it. This means that it can be used as (strong) evidence against you in court to convict you of a crime.
Say for example you've been arrested for burglary. While you're in the back of the police car, a cop says, "We got a neighbor lady that puts you on the porch of that house right before the burglary." And you say, "That's a lie. I never went anywhere near that house that night. I was walking my dog clear across the street at the time." You have just "admitted" or "confessed" that you were at the crime scene at the time of the burglary. The government will now use this to try to convict you of burglary, accessory, attempt, conspiracy, aiding or abetting, etc.
Always get your deal in writing BEFORE you say anything.Sometimes it can help you to cooperate. But you must be sure that you actually get what you were promised for your cooperation. You must not speak to anyone (again, speaking is "admitting" or "confessing") before you have a written contract signed by the police and the prosecutor that says what you will get, such as dropped or reduced charges or immunity from any prosecution. Are these written contracts enforceable where you live? Are the terms of the written contract that you negotiated with the government fair in the place where you live? You should always get a local lawyer to help you answer these questions.
Always remember that if you don't get this kind of written contract, you are a suspect or a person of interest in the case. This means that you should NEVER speak to the police or prosecutors. You should ALWAYS use your right to stay silent. Be thankful you're not living in North Korea.