What should I do if I am arrested for a crime?

Do not answer any questions. Call a lawyer as soon as possible. Many people do not understand that they always have a right to a lawyer. Many convictions would not occur if the arrested person had asked for a lawyer immediately. As soon as you ask for a lawyer the police must stop talking to you. After being read the Miranda Rights, an arrested person is asked if he understands his rights. However, the officer almost never ask an arrested person if he wants a lawyer. Be sure to ask for one. Furthermore, an arrested person may stop talking to an officer at any time, even after an interrogation has begun. In other words, you can invoke your Miranda Rights at any time.

What happens after I am arrested?

If you are arrested for breaking a criminal law, the case is taken before a magistrate or judge who may set a bond for appearance in court. If the defendant cannot post the bond he may be incarcerated pending appearance in court. If bond is posted, he will remain free pending appearance at an arraignment. An arraignment usually occurs within 24 hours of the arrest or the first date available if on a weekend or holiday. The arraignment is held before a judge of the courts. During the arraignment the defendant is formally told what offense he is charged with, told their constitutional rights, and of the possible penalties. The defendant will enter a plea of guilty or not guilty, bond may be reviewed, and a date for the next hearing will be scheduled.

If I ask for a lawyer, must I be allowed to have one?

Yes. Always. Even juvenile offenders (under age18) are entitled to a lawyer during an interrogation or questioning. However, the police are not required to, and usually will not, allow that juvenile's parent or parents be present.

If I am asked to come to a police station to talk to an officer, must I go?

No. While cooperation may be valuable in some circumstances, call your lawyer before you go. Either your lawyer will tell you not to go, or he or she will go with you. Keep this in mind: if the police had enough information to arrest you, there would be no need to question you.

What is a search warrant?

A search warrant is a written document signed by a Judge allowing the police access to some areas, such as a structure or a car.

Is a search warrant always necessary?

No. If the police are in "hot pursuit", for instance, they may enter a person's property without a search warrant. The police may often search a motor vehicle with cause (something illegal in plain view or for their own protection). If a homeowner or car driver gives permission, no warrant is needed.

What do I do if I find out there is an arrest warrant outstanding for me?

You must turn yourself in. Contact an attorney and he may be able to help you turn yourself in and assist in setting a bond.