Being arrested can be a confusing and frightening experience, which leads to the question, “What are your rights when arrested?” You’re entitled to exercise several rights, including the right to remain silent, be represented by an attorney, and make phone calls, as well as the right to humane treatment, reasonable bail, and a speedy and fair trial. Familiarizing yourself with these rights will help you be well-prepared to interact with police officers, know how to behave when arrested, and know when officers are violating your rights, which could benefit the outcome of your case in court.
What Are Your Rights When Arrested?
The United States Constitution and state laws provide rights to protect you during police encounters and arrests. They are:
If you’re under arrest, the police must inform you of your Miranda rights. That includes telling you of your right to remain silent, your right to an attorney, and that anything you say to the police may be used as evidence against you.
Right to Remain Silent
When you’re arrested, you have the right not to say anything when questioned about a crime. The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and the laws of the state guarantee the right. The police can use any statements you make to prove your guilt. After giving your name and address, you can state that you wish to remain silent until your attorney is present.
Right to Seek Legal Representation
You have the right to a lawyer. The police must allow you to contact a lawyer after arresting you. A criminal lawyer will give you legal counsel on when to exercise your right to be silent, what to share with the police, and other constitutional rights. He or she will continue to guide you as you face the criminal justice system.
If you’re unable to hire an attorney, you have the right to be assigned a public defender. Public defenders represent individuals charged with crimes and can’t afford to hire a private attorney.
The Right to Refuse Consent to a Search
If you’re arrested, you don’t have to consent to searches. You can refuse any search on your house, car, or yourself. The Fourth Amendment protects you from unwarranted or unreasonable searches and seizures. You’ll have waived your constitutional rights if you consent to an unwarranted search. That could affect your case later in court.
If the police claim to have a valid search warrant, you should ask them to show it to you. Police officers can perform a warrantless search if they have probable cause. An officer will have probable cause necessary to perform a search if he or she has observed something that’s made him or her believe you may have committed a crime or intent to commit a crime, such as:
- Erratic driving
- Drugs and drug paraphernalia
- Smelling alcohol
- Blood splatter
- Incriminating statements
Police officers can search your home without a warrant in certain emergency situations, such as when they’re chasing someone or if there are screams for help coming from your house. A police officer also has a right to pat you down without a warrant if he or she reasonably believes you could be carrying a weapon. The officer can also search you and the area immediately around you after telling you you’re under arrest.
In such cases, you can verbally refuse any further search without physically resisting. A clear verbal refusal may allow your lawyer to have evidence found after such a search dismissed by the court, particularly if the officer didn’t have a warrant or probable cause. For example, in cases of a DUI involving drugs, your criminal defense lawyer can have the evidence of contraband drugs thrown out if the search that produced the drugs wasn’t legal.
It’s also easier for your lawyer to have evidence that was found during a search based on probable cause dismissed by the court than evidence found through a search to which you consented. Refusing to consent to a search isn’t admitting guilt. It’s unlawful for the police to arrest you just because of not consenting to a search.
What Do Rights Citizens Have When in Jail?
Right to Be Booked
When you’re taken into police custody, you should be booked within a reasonable time. If you’re detained without being booked for several hours or even overnight, your criminal defense attorney could obtain an order for you to be brought before the court to determine if you’re being held unlawfully.
Right to Make Phone Calls
Within a reasonable period after the police have taken you into custody, you’re entitled to make calls. The police can listen to phone calls to your family members and friends. They can’t listen to a phone call to a lawyer.
Right to Speedy Trial
After an arrest, the process leading to your trial should be as quick as possible. You have the right to see the closest and most accessible judge without unreasonable delays.
Right to Courteous Police Treatment
Once in custody, you have a right to be treated respectfully and humanely, not cruelly, by the police.
Right to Bail
You have a right to seek and post bail, an amount of money paid to the court to secure your release from custody until the trial date. The money is returned when you appear for trial. Bail essentially serves as a promise that if you’re released, you’ll still show up to stand trial.
Several factors determine the bail amount you’ll have to pay, such as your criminal record and the type and severity of the crime you’re accused of committing.
Your Rights in Court
Once your case goes to court, you’re entitled to know what charge is being brought against you and receive a copy of the paper containing the charge.
You can choose to plead not guilty for the crime you’re accused of committing. If you plead not guilty, the judge may set a date for the next proceeding, consider requests for bail, and assign you a public defender if you haven’t yet hired your own criminal defense attorney.
Exercising Your Rights
Your rights when you’re arrested can only serve their purpose when you use them. Below are some valuable tips on using your rights.
What to Do If Stopped by the Police
When stopped for questioning by the police, you should keep your words, emotions, movements, and body language in check. You have a right to refuse to answer questions. Don’t complain, get into arguments, or make statements regarding an incident or your private affairs. The police can use anything you do or say against you.
Avoid putting your hands in your clothing or pockets. Make sure you keep them where they’re visible to the officer. It’s also advisable to gather any information that could be helpful later, such as the officer’s badge number, car numbers, witness statements and contact information, and photographs of your injuries if you’re injured.
What If You’re Stopped While in Your Car?
When you are pulled over by the police, you should take the following steps:
- Stop the vehicle in a safe place.
- If requested, show the police your valid driver’s license, registration, and insurance information.
- The police may decide to search your car if they have probable cause. Let them know that you don’t consent to a search. That could later help your case.
- Avoid sudden movements and ensure your hands are always where the officer can see them.
- If the officer gives you a ticket, sign it. The officer can arrest you if you refuse to sign it.
- Don’t flee the scene. Instead, ask the officer whether he or she is detaining you or you’re free to leave.
Steps to Follow When Arrested by the Police
If a law enforcement officer is arresting you, don’t resist, even if you believe you’re innocent. Being arrested doesn’t mean you’re guilty. Resisting arrest can make it seem like you’re guilty and hurt your case. Additionally, resisting arrest could result in additional charges, such as resisting a peace officer, which could lead to a fine of up to $2,500 and a maximum jail time of one year in Illinois.
You should also not obstruct or interfere with police officers when they’re arresting someone else, even if you feel the rights of the arrested person are being violated.
Don’t Speak With the Police
When you’re arrested, you’re not obligated to talk to the police. It’s best to remain silent and consult an attorney before talking to the police. You can tell the police your name and address, but avoid telling stories and giving explanations or excuses.
Police officers may approach you in a friendly way to discuss your case. They may even claim to want to help you. However, their main aim is to gather information that they’ll use against you later. Politely tell them that you don’t wish to talk about your case without your lawyer present.
Obtain Legal Assistance
Seeking professional assistance is crucial to getting the best possible outcome for your case. Once arrested, it’s vital to ask to talk to a lawyer as soon as possible. A lawyer will help you take appropriate steps to protect your rights and avoid incriminating yourself. Don’t say or agree to anything without speaking with a lawyer.
If you can’t hire a criminal lawyer, you can have a public defender provided for you. Public defenders are usually overworked with large caseloads. As a result, they won’t give your case the time and attention it needs. Considering the implications that being arrested could have for your future, it’s crucial to have adequate representation. As a result, a criminal defense lawyer will be best placed to represent your best interests.
Conduct Yourself Appropriately in Court
When your case proceeds to trial, you should conduct yourself respectfully. Be punctual and wear appropriate clothing when making a court appearance. Don’t talk out of turn. A criminal defense lawyer can help you present yourself as a respectful, responsible, and law-abiding citizen to the jury or judge.