Getting arrested is scary. Even before you are informed of your charges, you know you are facing criminal penalties like years behind bars, steep fines, and the loss of certain social and professional opportunities. But these penalties are not guaranteed. A strong legal defense strategy can help you avoid these penalties and knowing what to do immediately following your arrest is part of an effective defense strategy.
KNOW YOUR RIGHTS
Knowing your constitutional rights is one of the most valuable investments you can make in your future liberty. These rights include:
- The right to refuse to make any statements that incriminate you;
- The right to have a lawyer present during interactions with law enforcement and the court;
- The right to refuse to consent to a search of your home or vehicle without a valid search warrant; and
- The right to a speedy trial by an impartial jury.
- Additionally, you have the right to be handled humanely by law enforcement, the right to not be detained unjustly, and the right to make at least three complete phone calls no more than three hours after you are arrested and booked.
START WORKING WITH A LAWYER AS SOON AS YOU CAN
I advise you to start working with a lawyer as soon as possible after you are arrested. Having a lawyer present can help your case even before you are charged. If possible, have a lawyer present during:
- Your bond hearing; and
- Your arraignment.
FIRST YOUR ARRAIGNMENT, THEN YOUR RELEASE
Your arraignment is the formal presentation of your charges. In California, this must occur within 72 court hours – essentially, business hours – of your arrest. At your arraignment hearing, you will be informed of your constitutional rights, offered your first opportunity to enter a plea, and find out the specific charges you are facing. The court may opt to modify, exonerate, set, or reinstate your bail.