Even law-abiding citizens may find themselves on the wrong side of the justice system at some point in their life. An arrest is a stressful and confusing situation for anyone. This is why every single person should know exactly what to do if they are under threat of being arrested or have recently been arrested.
Those that are being arrested often feel as if they can talk their way out of the arrest, reason with the officer, or simply argue to convey their point. Unfortunately, it is very common for these people to incriminate themselves even if they are not guilty. Other than providing the officer with your name and proper documentation, you have no other legal obligations during the arrest.
Do Not Allow Illegal Searches
An officer is only allowed to search you and your property if you consent to it, if they have a warrant, or if they have probable cause such as they believe contraband is nearby. In the vast majority of scenarios, if an officer asks to search you or your property you have the right to decline. Even if you have nothing illegal nearby, your defense will be easier if the search is declined.
Leave Personal Possessions at Home
If you know that you are being arrested after a warrant has been issued or you are planning to attend a public demonstration, then leave all of your personal possessions at home. It is very easy for police officers to forget to give you a voucher for your items or to have them broken during the arrest. The only possessions that you need are two forms of identification and quarters for a telephone call.
While these situations can be overwhelming, you should attempt to collect or remember as much information as possible. Quite a bit of data will be written down in the report, but it is always a good idea to err on the side of caution and collect the information yourself. This includes the time of the arrest, if the officer read you your rights, the officer’s badge number, and the contact information of any witnesses.
Contact an Attorney
The final step of this process is to contact an experienced attorney, like St. Louis criminal lawyer Richard Lozano. Even if you feel as if your case is straightforward, mistakes can be made. It is an unfortunate fact that many people are falsely convicted of a crime or receive an especially harsh sentence if they attempt to represent themselves.
Both the officer and the individual that is being arrested have a number of legal rights and responsibilities during and immediately following these tense situations. Understanding those rights beforehand could make all the difference in an upcoming trial.