Thank you to the Law Offices of Jeremy Gordon for submitting this post and providing information about what to do before and after you or a loved one is arrested.
Whether you are arrested for a state or federal crime, EVEN IF you are completely innocent of all charges, it’s critical to remember that the questions you are asked after arrest are going to come back to impact you at a later time. And lying, being deceptive or making false statements to the police and/or federal agents (even BEFORE arrest) is also a crime and can be punished with significant jail time and/or fines.
When do people get arrested? Well, someone is arrested when a police or federal officer takes that person into custody. Being in custody means that the person is not free to leave. Although people who are arrested are ultimately taken to jail, the arrest often begins much earlier.
Your rights are read to you. You will know that you have been arrested because you will have been read your Miranda Rights. Once you have been arrested, STOP TALKING. You have the right to remain silent, and we highly recommend you exercise that right.
• Personal searches: Once you are arrested (and often prior to arrest), you will be searched. Any contraband or evidence will be seized.
• Search of your home, car or office: It’s important to remember that you do not have to allow the police to search anywhere! If the officer asks, tell them that they do not have the right to search and must have your consent. Tell them and any witnesses that “You (the police) do not have consent to search.” If they perform the search anyway, that evidence may be thrown out later. Also, if you consent to a search, the officers may find something that you had no idea you or someone else had placed there, i.e., marijuana left by a friend. NOTE: It’s common for the police or federal agents to arrest you outside your home and then give you the opportunity to go back inside to “change, freshen up, talk to your wife, husband, get a jacket”, or some other reason. They will seem to be kind and gracious as they escort you inside your home and then they can begin to search through it. Also, do not give them permission to secure your car, as it will give them an opportunity to enter it and search it.
• Your demeanor during the search: Be sure to keep your eyes down and your mouth shut. Your temptation might be to look at places where something might be hidden, and police and federal agents are well-trained to watch your body language.
Documentation and identification. You will be photographed and fingerprinted and there will be a record of the arrest. If it is suspected that you are under the influence of a substance, you may be asked to take a breathalyzer or give blood.
Invoke your rights! Remember that you have the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney. Say, “I wish to remain silent and I would like to talk to a lawyer.” Once you have invoked your rights, STOP TALKING. It’s a temptation to say, “I don’t want to talk” but once you start talking, it’s nearly inevitable that you will say something incriminating, which will then be used against you in court.
Of course, you can feel free to tell police your name and basic information (like your address and birth date) but do not tell them anything else. Once you’ve been placed under arrest, STOP TALKING. Do not talk to the police, your family or friends, or other inmates. Save your talking for your attorney.
Being questioned. Remember, Police are well-trained to ferret out incriminating information, and other inmates will often ‘chat you up’ in the hopes that you will tell them something that they can turn over to police in order to secure a better deal for themselves. Also, remember that the law permits the police and federal agents to lie to you in order to get you to talk. For example, they will separate you from your friends (if arrested together and tell the first one that the second one ‘squealed’ on him. An even more common example is when police or federal agents tell a suspect that if he talks to the police, “it will go easier”. And while that may be true, it more often than not just makes it easier for the police to make their case.
Phone calls and conversations. All phone calls or visits with your friends or family are likely to be recorded or monitored. The only safe conversations are with your attorney. They are considered confidential and are unmonitored and not recorded.
FINAL NOTES: Do not try to talk your way out of jail and do not make any decisions about your case without first talking to a lawyer. You have the right to refuse to participate in a lineup, or do anything else with regard to your case, until you see a lawyer. Hiring an attorney should be the FIRST thing you do after being arrested.
Submitted by the Law Offices of Jeremy Gordon (844-ATTY-NOW)