Know Your Rights if You Are Arrested
For most people, being arrested is one of the most frightening and stressful interactions with law enforcement that they will ever have. When you are arrested, your liberty is taken in a way that is not natural and you will probably have a lot of questions racing through your mind, like “What have I done?” “Should I say anything?” “Do I need a lawyer?” There is nothing wrong with being prepared for an arrest, even if you are a law-abiding citizen and have no intention of breaking any laws.
Your Rights if You Are Arrested
First, we should note the difference between a “stop” and an arrest. A “stop” occurs when a police officer stops you, normally to ask you a few questions, and uses a show of authority that indicates that you are not free to leave. These incidents are normally brief and occur in the place where you were detained. An arrest is different. If the officer wants to hold you longer, or decides to take you elsewhere, such as to the police station, the officer is no longer just stopping you, but is arresting you. An arrest deprives you of your freedom of movement for an even longer period of time than a stop.
If you are arrested, you have certain rights, as illustrated below.
The right to be told why you are being arrested and the nature of the charges against you. If you are arrested pursuant to a warrant, you have the right to see the warrant within a reasonable time after your arrest.
- The right to be read your Miranda rights by your arresting officer. Miranda rights include:
- The right to remain silent
- The right to know that if you waive your right to remain silent, the police can use your answers against you in court
- The right to stop answering questions at any time and consult an attorney
- The right to speak privately with an attorney before answering any questions or signing anything
- If you cannot afford an attorney, you have the right to have an attorney appointed to represent you at no cost to you.
- The right to contact a responsible person to tell them that you have been arrested
- The right to refuse any physical or chemical test (such as a polygraph or breathalyzer test) until you have spoken with your lawyer.
- The right to have your attorney present at any line-up or other identification procedure in which you are viewed by possible witnesses to the crime
- The right to reasonable bail or bond to secure your release from jail, unless you are charged with a capital crime
- The right to be brought before a court as soon as is reasonably practicable after your arrest, so that you can request a preliminary hearing to test the basis of your arrest
If you have been arrested, you will need competent representation to guide you through the often-confusing criminal justice system. Contact the West Chester, PA criminal defense attorneys at the for a free consultation by calling 610-436-1410.