When you’re told that you are under arrest, you may feel several emotions. Those emotions can include, disbelief, fear, anger or more. You may be confused about what has just happened or you may have expected it on some level. No matter what your emotions, there are some things you should keep in mind if you find yourself under arrest. Consider the following 10 tips:
- You have the right to remain silent: You’ve likely heard of these rights on a television show or a movie. There are several important parts to your Miranda rights, but the right to remain silent is one of the most important. You cannot be punished if you refuse to answer questions from a law enforcement officer. It’s best to tell the officer that you wish to remain silent. Remember, that if you are asked to identify yourself, the law requires that you give your name. In addition, it is best to avoid speaking with your family and friends about your case. Unlike your attorneys, conversations with family and friends can be used against you.
- You have a right to an attorney: This is another part of your Miranda rights. If you have been arrested, you should ask for an attorney immediately. This will protect your right to remain silent, as law enforcement officers should not question you after you ask for an attorney. You do not have to give the officers any explanations or excuses. You should not say anything, make any decisions or sign anything without first speaking with an attorney. If you can’t afford an attorney, you have the right to a free one. If you do call an attorney, know that the police are not allowed to listen to your conversation.
- Do not resist arrest: No matter how unfairly you believe you are being treated or you believe your rights are being violated, do not resist, fight, run or argue with police. Stay calm and remain silent. Keep your hands where the officers can see them. Don’t threaten to file a complaint against the officers.
- As soon as possible, write down everything you remember about the incident and your arrest: Include the officers’ names and badge numbers, the patrol car numbers, which law enforcement agency the officers were from and any other important details. If possible, get the contact information from those who witnessed the incident or your arrest. If you are injured, seek medical care and get photographs of your injuries. This written record will not only help your criminal case, but can also provide the basis of a written complaint against the officers and their conduct. Do so as soon as possible can provide your attorney with the most accurate information while it is fresh in your mind.
- Remain silent if you are questioned about your immigration or citizenship status: You are not required to discuss your immigration status with any official, including police or immigration agents. You don’t have to answer questions about where you were born, how you entered the United States or whether you are a U.S. citizen. If an immigration agent wants to see your immigration papers, you must show the papers to the agent if you have them with you. If you are over the age of 18, you should carry your immigration documents with you. If you don’t have any immigration papers, then you should tell the immigration you want to remain silent. Do not provide fake documents or lie about your citizenship status.
- You have the right to an attorney if you are taken into immigration custody: The government does not have to provide an attorney for you if you are in immigration’s custody. If you don’t have an attorney, ask if there is a list of low-cost or free legal service. You do have a right to contact your consulate or have an officer tell your consulate that you have been arrested. You should not sign anything without your lawyer’s approval. You could be giving up your chance to stay in the U.S. Don’t sign paperwork for voluntary departure or for stipulated removal. You should not speak about your immigration status with anyone but your attorney.
- Remember your immigration number or “A” number: You should make sure your family members have your immigration number. This will help your family members locate you after your arrest. Give a copy of your immigration papers to a trusted friend or family member. Memorize your family’s and attorney’s phone numbers. Always have emergency plans in place if you take medication or have children. If you are not able to understand what police or immigration agents are trying to tell you, request an interpreter.
- You do not have to let law enforcement in your home unless they have a warrant: Police and other law enforcement agents can enter a home if they have a warrant. However, they are not allowed to search areas that are not listed on the search warrant. They also cannot search for items that are not listed on the search warrant. Even if a law enforcement officer has a warrant, you still have the right to remain silent. A warrant of removal or deportation (otherwise known as an ICE warrant) does not give officers the right to enter your home without your consent.
- You can refuse to consent to a search of your vehicle or your home: Unless law enforcement officers have a search warrant to search your home or vehicle, you can refuse to consent to a search. However, if police believe that there is evidence of a crime in your vehicle, officers can search it without your consent. If you are arrested, then your vehicle may be searched incident to arrest. In some cases, the vehicles are searched when they are impounded, with police referring to the search as a “vehicle’s inventory.” If police find what they believe is evidence of a crime in your vehicle, it can be used against you in court.
- Abide by all terms of pretrial release or bond: If you are released on bond, you must not violate any conditions of your bond. You will likely find yourself put back in jail. If there are protective orders or a trespassing warning in your case, make sure you abide by them. If your bond paperwork stipulates that you are not to leave the state, do not so, even if it is for training, working or for personal reasons. Doing so can mean you could end up right back in jail.
These are just a few of the things you should remember if you are arrested. As stated before, the most important one is to remain silent. Detectives and other law enforcement officers are trained in interrogation techniques. Remember that law enforcement officers can lie to you, pretend they are your friend, offer to help you out and try to wear you down. One way to avoid all of this is to simply tell officers you want an attorney. Any questions should cease at this point until your attorney arrives.
It’s also important to know as much as you can about the charges you are facing. Is your charge a misdemeanor or a felony? Is time in jail or prison possible? You will want to know what the charges are and what the possible penalties are. Your attorney can provide more information on what the possible penalties are and what he or she believes will happen in your case. However, it’s important to remember that nothing is guaranteed when it comes to court proceedings.
No matter what the circumstances, an arrest is going to be a life-altering event in many cases. Knowing what to do after your arrest can relieve some of the fear of the unknown. In addition, knowing your rights can help keep you from incriminating yourself and making your situation worse than it already was.