Being arrested can be a frightening experience, often inducing impulsive and primal responses. There are, however, a few tips to help you walk through the early stages of the criminal process.
Tips during the Arrest
1. Be polite and cooperative with law enforcement. One of the most frequent questions asked by judges of police officers is whether the defendant was polite and cooperative. And, the last thing defense attorneys want to hear is that their client was rude to the police officer. Whether your rights were violated or not, it does not pay to be disrespectful to law enforcement. If the police officer did something wrong, or violated your constitutional rights, your attorney will know how to appropriately address in court.
2. Invoke your right to remain silent. Every American has a 5th Amendment right to remain silent during a custodial interrogation. That means you do not have to tell police anything. If you are already arrested, police presumably have probable cause. If you start talking, you are giving police their case on a silver platter. Before saying a word, talk to an attorney.
3. Invoke your right to counsel. Every American also has a 6th Amendment right to counsel. That means that as soon as your seized by police, and they start asking questions, you have an absolute right to counsel. If you tell them unequivocally that you wish to speak to an attorney, the police cannot ask you any more questions. In light of Tip No. 1, that does not mean you have to be a jerk about it when you tell police you want to speak to an attorney. You can politely say that you wish to speak to an attorney before you speak with them. Whether you ultimately talk to the police is something you can talk to your attorney about during your consultation.
1. Do NOT talk to anyone other than your attorney about your case. That means that if you are sitting in jail with other inmates, do not talk to them about your arrest, the allegations against you, or anything to do with your case. Prosecutors often rely on jail house snitches to prove their cases; don't be a victim of a snitch. Furthermore, do not call family members if you have access to a phone and tell them about your case. In many instances, the jail phones record all conversations. That means that if you confess to your mother over the phone, there is a very good chance of the prosecutor pulling the tape to use against you.
2. Get Counsel. Once you are arrested, you will be arraigned. That means you will be taken before a judge to be advised of your charge(s) and of your right to counsel. If you cannot afford an attorney, the Court will appoint an attorney to represent you. Be advised, your arraignment is not your opportunity to plead your case. In fact, other than informing the Court that you would like to have the Court appoint an attorney, the only other foreseeable line of business to discuss is bond. If the Court addresses bond during your arraignment, you will need to be your own advocate. Focus on your ties to the community, your educational background, your prior record (if it's not bad), your current employment, your children. Do not be afraid to speak up about those things, but wait until the judge inquires.
3. Be patient. The wheels of justice often move slowly. If the Court appoints an attorney, he or she will, in all likelihood, see you the same day or in the next couple of days after appointment. But remember, you are probably not your attorney's only client so be patient. If you do not qualify for court-appointed counsel, use the phone (if permitted) to reach out to friends and family to help in your search for counsel. Although you should not talk to other inmates about the merits of your case, that does not mean you can't ask them about their attorneys.
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