Close Menu
Milligan, Beswick, Levine & Knox, LLP - Attorneys at Law
  • Confidential Consultations
  • Hablamos Español

Help! I’ve Been Arrested!

shutterstock_17843134So, you’ve been arrested. Maybe you were jaywalking, perhaps you robbed a store or you just happened to
be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Whatever the reason, knowing what to do next is crucial. It can mean the difference between walking free or being ushered into a prison cell. Regardless of whether you are innocent or not, remember these three things if you are put under arrest: stay calm, stay quiet and call your attorney.

Stay Calm

It is never, ever a good idea to try and get away from the police or fight against being put in handcuffs. Even if you aren’t guilty of any crime, you could now be charged with resisting arrest. And if you manage to escape and make a run for it, the law will not be on your side; the punishment will likely be severe when (not if) you’re caught. Rather, keep calm and wait for all of this to play out. If you are prone to panicking, try simple breathing exercises to relax.
You would be well within your rights to ask what you are being arrested for. However, police are also within their rights to not give an answer immediately. If they don’t tell you why you are being arrested, just roll with it for now. Screaming at an officer or making demands for information won’t get you anywhere, except maybe on the cop’s bad side. You would be wise to not try to intimidate a cop, either. It could lead to you being tazed or otherwise getting physically injured, especially if you lay a hand on the officer.

Stay Quiet

Even if you have not committed a crime, your best option is to keep your mouth closed. Thanks to our Founding Fathers, you have the right to not self-incriminate yourself under the Fifth Amendment. Take advantage of that right. The less you say, the less officers and, depending on how far the case goes, the judge have to go on. You can’t talk your way out of an arrest. No matter how much you insist you didn’t do anything and they have no right to arrest you, it won’t help your case. Rather, save that energy to keep your mind clear and take mental notes, like when your Miranda rights are given or who is witnessing the arrest.

Your right to not self-incriminate extends beyond just what you say. An officer or detective may ask you to sign documents, especially when you are in a jail cell. You absolutely do not need to sign anything they give you, and it’s advisable not to. Speaking of being in jail, you will likely be questioned. There are a few tactics investigators may take, such as the classic good cop/bad cop routine. No matter how friendly the officer may seem, they are never on your side. Innocent-seeming questions are usually asked to either catch you off-guard or to extract seemingly useless information. Even if the officer asks how the weather is, you can — and should — refuse to answer.

Staying quiet also involves the Fourth Amendment, which grants you protection against unreasonable search and seizure. In recent cases, state courts have taken different stances when it comes to unlocking phones. In California, for instance, it was ruled that the police can force you to unlock your phone via fingerprint, because it is physical evidence. However, if a passcode keeps your phone safe, you cannot be forced to unlock it, as that information exists in your mind and falls under the Fifth Amendment. But, police can get a warrant to search your phone and any other property, and keep you detained until it arrives.

Call Your Attorney

Who is your attorney? If you are like most people, you probably answered with something along the lines of, “I don’t have one.” That is the wrong answer. Even if you’ve never even run a stop sign, you need to have a criminal attorney — preferably two — in your address book. You never know if you are going to be arrested and need some kind of representation. If you don’t have an attorney on call, you could find yourself relying on your cellmate to recommend representation, or you could be stuck with a public defender.

“But I didn’t do anything. There’s no way this goes to court!” Even so, you will be questioned. Police will be hoping you let something incriminating slip. Having an attorney with you in the interrogation room can keep you from answering questions that could land you behind bars. Your attorney can also review any documents you may be asked to sign.

Being arrested is not an uncommon happening in the US. In fact, nearly a third of all Americans have some kind of police record. Staying calm, staying silent and letting your attorney do all the talking for you will make the process much easier and, in many cases, can save you from spending time behind bars.

Facebook Twitter LinkedIn

Stephen Levine, is a Board Certified Specialist in Criminal Defense — an honor achieved by only the top criminal law attorneys in California. Mr. Levine has over 40 years of experience in criminal defense and family law serving Southern California, and is a highly regarded Super Lawyer as well as AV Rated attorney.