The key to surviving an arrest is to remain calm, accept the police’s orders, and preserve your rights by refusing to speak to the police without your counsel present. Respect the police, and they will presumably respect you in return. This knowledge should help you to get through the process if you’re arrested in the future.
After Your Arrest, You Will Be Placed in Custody
- A judge or magistrate issues an arrest warrant if a grand jury produces an indictment or if a prosecutor submits a key piece of information. If you are the subject of the warrant and are not already in custody, police enforcement may locate you and take you into custody, or you may turn yourself in if you become aware of the warrant. Instead of being arrested, you may be given a citation to appear in court if the violation is less serious.
- Miranda rights are named after Ernesto Miranda, a criminal defendant who fought his arrest and conviction and won his appeal before the United States Supreme Court. The Supreme Court ruled that if authorities interrogate someone in detention, the information gained during the interrogation cannot be used against them unless they have been informed of their constitutional rights to counsel and to remain silent.
Booking and the Prosecutor’s Decision
You’ll be booked, which is a process where you’ll be asked for basic information (such as address and birthdate), fingerprinted, and photographed (which you should cooperate with). You may also be asked to stand in a line-up or submit a sample of your handwriting (which you should decide only after speaking with a lawyer).
If you are detained but not booked within a reasonable period (many hours or overnight), your counsel may petition a judge for a writ of habeas corpus; that is an order instructing the police to bring you before the court to assess whether you are being held fairly.
After being booked, your information is given to the prosecutor’s office, where there should be an independent decision as to what charges, if any, should be filed. You have a constitutional right to a speedy trial, which means the prosecutor must bring charges within 72 hours (or 48 hours in some states). Charges can be dismissed, modified, or augmented when additional evidence is gathered.
Arraignment and Possible Release
The next step is your arraignment. You will be in court or appear through a video camera, and the charges being filed against you are read in court. You’ll be asked how you plead, which can be guilty, not guilty, or nolo contendere, aka no contest (you deny guilt but admit there’s enough evidence to convict you). If you do not enter a plea at all, the judge will enter a not-guilty plea on your behalf.
By posting bail, you may be permitted to leave jail after your arrest and before your trial. You pay money to the court during this procedure to assure that you will return to court in the future. If you cooperate, the court will reimburse your bond; if you do not, the court will keep the money and may issue a warrant for your arrest.
The moment you are arrested, strolenylaw.com recommends getting a lawyer who will guide you towards achieving your rights.