What Should I Do if I Get Arrested?
Stay Calm and Avoid Self-Incrimination
There probably aren't many more scary situations one can endure than being arrested, especially for the first time. There is so much misinformation in the media, and crime drama television shows often present a skewed version of reality under the law. You may be asking yourself what you should actually do if you get arrested.
I have seen several police cruiser videos where the alleged perpetrator argues with the police officer or continues to talk and incriminate himself on tape during the whole ride to the magistrate's office. Some individuals are not aware that the conversations they have with family and friends from the jail are being recorded. I am aware of police officers obtaining confessions from individuals while they are awaiting court at the jail and before they have had the opportunity to confer with their lawyer.
How the Police Often Obtain Evidence
The best evidence that the police obtain during their investigations for a DWI, Theft, or child injury cases usually comes either directly or indirectly from you. Officers often use language like "come clean" and "be honest" and "it will feel better if you tell us." They often promise leniency in your criminal case if you spill your guts. The truth of the matter is that they don't have to be honest with you during the investigation process. Under the law, they can completely lie to you.
In fact, the District Attorney is the entity that decides if you will be granted immunity or leniency and police officers very rarely discuss cases with the D.A. until after their investigation is complete.
Knowing the True Meaning of Your Rights
Probably the most important thing you can do if you are arrested is to keep quiet! You have the right to remain silent during all dealings with the police, under the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution. In fact, in most cases you should really start zipping it as soon as the police become involved. Due to the unfortunate holding of the recent Supreme Court case, Salinas v. Texas , however, you actually do have to tell the officer that you are invoking your right to remain silent.
Counterintuitive, I know. Under Salinas, your silence can actually be used against you as evidence of guilt unless you make clear that you are invoking your Fifth Amendment right; the only thing you need to say is "I am hereby invoking my Fifth Amendment right to remain silent."
In the Miranda warnings when the officer says "anything you say can be used against you," he really means it. There are a host of evidence rules and the Confrontation Clause of the Constitution that protect you from having other people repeat the statements of others in your jury trial. In general eyewitnesses to alleged crimes have to testify against you in court even if they gave the police a detailed statement during the investigation; the officer cannot simply regurgitate their prior statements in court.
The same is not true about your prior statements. They can be repeated by anyone and everybody and used against you in anyway during your criminal trial. Not all cases make it to trial, obviously, but you should prepare as if your case will go to trial. You should remember that the only person that cannot repeat your prior statements in court is your lawyer, because of attorney-client privilege.
Final Thoughts on How to Conduct Yourself
The rule of thumb I give my clients is to not discuss their case with anyone but their lawyer and not to say anything in public, including social media or text messages, that they would not want used in a trial against them with their life and liberty on the line. And if you get arrested, the first and most important thing you can do to protect yourself is to hire a criminal defense lawyer as soon as humanly possible.
For more particular information regarding your specific case,
call my offices today at (210) 201-7622 to schedule a free case evaluation.