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Under Arrest 101

Nobody plans on getting arrested.  But every day, thousands of people all across the country find themselves on the wrong side of an unfortunate situation.  Being arrested is a scary and distressing experience.  Clients often share the feeling of helplessness, vulnerability, and fear that comes with being arrested by the police.  But as helpless as you may feel, the truth is that there are things you can do to help yourself.  Here is a comprehensive guide on what to do if you find yourself in this unfortunate situation according to a criminal defense lawyer

1. Stay Calm And Comply

If you want to improve your situation, do not resist the police.  It never works and almost always makes your situation worse.  As difficult as it may be, it’s important to maintain a composed demeanor and avoid any confrontational behavior.  Comply with instructions and do not resist. 

2. Do NOT Consent To Searches

Search and seizure law is a big part of criminal law.  Police investigate suspected crimes by gathering evidence.  For the most part, this is done by interviewing witnesses and gathering physical evidence.  You usually can’t prevent police from talking to witnesses, but you absolutely can refuse to help them find physical evidence.  The U.S. Constitution gives you the right to refuse to consent to a search according to our friends at Archambault Criminal Defense.  If the police ask you if they can search your home, car, purse, etc, you can tell them no!  BUT, if they tell you they’re going to search anyway, do NOT try to stop them.  Make it clear that you’re not consenting to a search, and then get out of their way.  If the police perform an illegal search, you’ll likely win in court.  But trying to prevent a search is not likely to end well for you, even if the search is unlawful.

3. Document The Encounter

Putting your cell phone into video recording mode is usually a good idea.  Even if the video itself isn’t useful, the audio may be if a dispute later arises over what was said or what happened during the interaction.  However, in some states your right to record may be limited.  Usually this applies to sensitive situations, like inside a jail or during medical treatment.  But in public your right to record the police is clear.  And using that right just may make a huge difference in how your case plays out.

4. Be Careful What You Say

A wise judge had a saying he liked to use when defendants were acting unruly in his courtroom – “You have the right to remain silent, and I strongly suggest you use it.” The same applies to interactions between private citizens and the police.  The Constitution gives you the right to remain silent, but that right means nothing if you don’t use it!  If you think you may have done something wrong, speaking to the police is very, very unlikely to help you.  And most of the time, it will hurt you.  Even for people who truly have done nothing wrong, talking to the police can be dangerous.  Remember, they’re literally out looking for criminals!  Don’t make yourself a convenient target by volunteering information when you don’t have to.

5. Get A Good Attorney

If you’re like most people, you probably have very little understanding about how the criminal justice system works.  You know about it mostly through television, movies, and books.  But as any doctor who has watched Grey’s Anatomy or any politician who watched House of Cards can tell you, media depictions are far from reality.  Unless you’ve had formal training in law, you’re probably not prepared to navigate the process of being arrested, charged with a crime, and brought into court.  But criminal defense attorneys have made a career out of helping people in exactly your situation.  A good defense attorney can not only give you advice and protect your rights, but they can also be a buffer between you and the police.  This gives you the ability to tell your side of the story (through your attorney) without incriminating yourself.  To paraphrase the wise judge’s tip #4 – “You have the right to an attorney – Use it!”

6. Play The Long Game

Good criminal defense almost always takes time.  It takes time to investigate what happened, evaluate evidence, plan a defense strategy, and work through the court process.  Being arrested – especially when you’ve done nothing wrong – is stressful, embarrassing, and maddening.  They eagerly look forward to clearing their name and making the truth known.  But the reality is that the truth is almost always going to take time.  It’s frustrating, but it takes time to craft a defense.  The truth will come out but it won’t be tomorrow.  It almost certainly won’t be next week or next month, even.  Because these things take time, you must be prepared to play the long game to get the best result.

Getting arrested is an awful experience.  It can derail your life, your career, your relationships, and more.  But there are things you can do (or not do!) to improve the situation.  Knowing your rights and taking appropriate action is essential.  By staying calm, following the advice in this post, and getting yourself an experienced and skilled criminal defense attorney, you can navigate this process with confidence and ensure a fair and just resolution to your situation. Contact a lawyer near you today for help on your case.


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