In this two-part blog series, we will be discussing the “Do’s” and “Don’ts” of getting arrested. Even if you have not been arrested before, it is important to know your rights should the instance arrive that you find a police officer at your front door or car window. While the lawyers at Alex Hernandez Jr. Criminal Law are thankful for police officers who keep our streets safe, we also understand that from time to time, citizens are wrongly arrested or their rights are imposed upon.
Today, we will be covering what you should do if you are detained or arrested by a police officer. The following is meant to protect your rights while also ensuring you do not get more charges against you. While nothing is guaranteed, these rules are designed to ensure the best possible outcome in most instances. Check back for our next blog about what not to do during an arrest.
What To Do During An Arrest
Keep Your Cool: If you take anything away from this blog, it is this: Stay calm, keep your cool, relax. We know it can be hard to relax when you encounter a police officer, but an officer may try to say your raised voice, heavy breathing, and sweat-beaded face is an admission of guilt (which it is not). Take a deep breath and trust that our criminal defense attorneys will have your back.
Inform The Police You Would Like An Attorney Before Answering Questions: Do this immediately. You’ve heard it before and we’ll say it too: You have the constitutional right to remain silent. If questioned, say, “I am invoking my right to remain silent. I would like to see a lawyer.” At this point, a police officer is not legally allowed to continue to interrogate you as this is a violation of your Miranda Rights – though many will still question you. Calmly repeat yourself and know you have the law on your side. Additionally, if you do answer any questions, you can invoke your right to remain silent at any time.
Keep in mind, the police are legally allowed to lie to you and manipulate you. They can tell you anything from, “I’m just trying to get some information and if you answer my questions I can let you go,” to, “Your friends told me this weed/gun/alcohol is yours, so you might as well admit it,” to, “We have the evidence we need and if you confess the judge will go easy on you.” Again, while it is important to remain calm, you can invoke your right to remain silent for anything from a speeding ticket to a murder charge. Trust that your criminal defense attorney will help you know when it is alright to speak and with whom.
Cooperate: Even if know for a fact that you did not break any laws, be cooperative and polite. If you’ve ever watched a police show on television, as soon as a suspect starts getting heated, the cop starts racking up charges. If they try to put you in handcuffs, even if you don’t deserve it, don’t resist and know that you will have time to speak with your criminal defense lawyer.
Give The Police Your Real Name, And Yes, Even If You Have A Warrant: Most often people who know they have warrants will try to give police a fake name, we get it. It always seems like a good idea at the time. However, ninety-nine percent of the time this ends badly (with another charge for giving police false information).
Keep Your Hands Where They Can See Them: It’s an unfortunate but not uncommon occurrence these days to see news stories about police shootings. Oftentimes, we hear a police officer recount that they saw a suspect reach for a gun. Do not reach for your pockets or put your hands near your waist, regardless of your age, sex, or skin color. If you want something out of your pocket, such as a phone or cigarettes, or you simply need to adjust your pants, inform the officer to make sure they won’t interpret your movement as threatening.
Allow A Pat-down: While a police officer cannot crawl around your vehicle to search it without a warrant, they can pat you down to search for weapons. Male police officers are allowed to pat-down female suspects and vice versa unless the specific district has a policy against this. You may request an officer of the same sex to come to the scene – though this may not always be available. Be aware that officers should use the backs of their hands to pat down your outer clothing during a normal pat-down or frisk. They cannot reach into your pockets, bra, underwear, or other underclothes under normal circumstances. If they do, you can say “I do not consent to a search.” Though keep in mind they may take you down to the station for more thorough search.
Take Notes: Whether at the station or after being detained, find a way to take detailed notes of the interaction with the police. Did you tell them they can’t search your car and they did anyway? Did you invoke your right to remain silent and they continued to interrogate you? Take detailed and copious notes as soon as possible and write down as much word-for-word interaction that you remember. This information can be very helpful to your criminal defense lawyer.
The Golden Rule: Contact Your Texas Criminal Defense Attorney
If you or a loved one has been arrested or had their rights violated during a police search or interaction, contact Alex Hernandez Jr. Criminal Law immediately. We have Texas criminal defense attorneys ready to fight your case and ensure your rights are upheld throughout the entire process.