What To Do If You Are Arrested
If you have been arrested, it can be difficult to know what to do. It is normal to be anxious and scared in this situation, particularly because you find yourself under someone else’s control and do not know what to expect from one minute to the next. However, the time surrounding the initial arrest includes critical moments in your criminal case, and the things you say and do (or more importantly, don’t say and do) can have a profound impact on how your case turns out. The criminal defense attorneys at Johnson, Westra, Broecker, Whittaker & Newitt, P.C. want to help you and have provided the following information to help you know how to deal with the situation you find yourself in.
First steps – stay calm and call a lawyer
Whether you agree with your arrest or not, arguing with the police when they are trying to arrest you is probably not going to be very helpful, and losing your temper or becoming physical will only get you into more trouble. Even if the police did not have a strong charge against you initially, now they have a good case of resisting arrest to charge you with. It is important to stay calm and cooperate with the orders or instructions given to you by law enforcement.
That being said, being cooperative does not mean that you have to consent to a search of your home, car or personal belongings. The police have the right to conduct a limited search of your person and your immediate surroundings incident to the arrest. If the police conduct a search, you shouldn’t try to obstruct them. However, if they are asking your permission or consent to search an area, you have the right to say no, and it is normally prudent to exercise that right.
You have the right to remain silent – Use it
We have all seen enough police dramas on television to know that when you are arrested, you have the right to remain silent and the right to speak to an attorney. It cannot be stressed enough how important these rights are to you. Anything you say to the police, to other people in the holding cell, or to friends or family members that is overheard in the police station, can all be used against you and construed in a way that makes you look guilty, even when you are not. You are strongly urged to request an attorney and politely decline to speak to police without one. Once you request an attorney, the police should stop questioning you, although they may try to reinitiate questioning later. Be firm and restate your request for a lawyer.
Soon after your arrest, you should have an arraignment where you will enter a plea and bail will be set. Having an attorney at this early stage can help you in a couple of ways. Making bail requires you to put up cash or property or buy a bail bond to get out of jail while your case is pending. Many bail bond companies charge a lower fee for their bond if you are already represented by an experienced criminal defense attorney. Also, your lawyer may be able to secure your release at the arraignment without any bail amount being set at all.
Also at the arraignment you will be asked to enter a plea. This is usually going to be Not Guilty. You can always change your plea later if necessary. Remember that it is the government’s job to prove the case against you beyond a reasonable doubt. You are within your rights to plead not guilty and present a strong defense on your behalf. Talk with your attorney about how to plead, and the benefits of negotiating a plea agreement versus going to trial, which depends upon the strength of the prosecution’s case and any defenses you have, as well as aggravating or mitigating factors that may be present, the potential consequences you face and how you feel about the uncertainty of an outcome at trial.
Our Chicago Criminal Defense Lawyers Are Here to Help You
The criminal defense lawyers at Johnson, Westra, Broecker, Whittaker & Newitt, P.C. are here when you need us. If you have been arrested, contact us to be put in touch with an experienced criminal defense attorney who can help you.