What Should I Do After I am Arrested in California?
Being arrested for a crime can be one of the most shocking and jarring moments of your life. Most people will never experience an arrest. If you get arrested, it will likely be one of your first encounters with law enforcement and with a situation in which your freedom is on the line. It is vital that you take certain steps to protect yourself and avoid putting yourself in more danger. Read on for suggestions on what to do after a California arrest, and contact a seasoned Ventura criminal defense attorney if you have been arrested or charged with a crime in California.
Know your rights
The state and federal constitutions guarantee you certain rights to protect yourself against police abuse or intimidation. It is important that you know these rights. You are entitled to the following:
- The right to due process, meaning no deprivation of life, liberty, or property without legal process and authorization
- To be free from unreasonable search and seizures
- The right to an attorney, either that you retain yourself or that is appointed by the court, and to consult with your attorney privately
- To be told your constitutional rights (your “Miranda Rights”)
- To know your charges and to see any relevant warrant within a reasonable time after arrest
- To remain silent, including the right to stop answering questions at any time
- To be released on bail or bond, unless you are charged with a capital crime
- To see a judge within a reasonable time after arrest
- In California, you are entitled to three free phone calls within the local dialing area; after three, you may be able to call collect from jail
The police can begin questioning you during or after your arrest. However, if you invoke your right to silence and your right to an attorney, they cannot force you to continue. If you voluntarily answer, you are giving up your rights to silence and to have an attorney present. If you ask for a lawyer and they keep questioning you, any answers you give can be used against you if you later testify to something different.
Remain silent, get a lawyer
You may have seen it on television or heard it from your friends, but the fact is that it is truly the best advice following an arrest: Remain silent. Do not speak to anyone, including the police, about the alleged crime. While you are in jail or while out on bail, anything you say can and will be used against you. The police are not your friends; they are looking to build a case against you. Trying to argue your innocence with the police will not help you and may come across as resisting arrest. Moreover, you should not discuss your case on the jail phone with your family or friends if you choose to call them.
When you arrive at the station, maintain your right to silence and your right to an attorney. As soon as you are able, get in touch with a lawyer. Either call one yourself, ask for an appointed attorney, or ask a family member, friend, or colleague to recommend or find you a lawyer. When your attorney arrives, discuss the matter with your attorney, and let the attorney do the talking with the police on your behalf. If you are called upon to answer questions directly, only do so while your attorney is present. While this is likely your first arrest, your criminal defense attorney has dealt with thousands. Your attorney will help you convey your side of the story to the police, will help ensure your rights are protected, and will know which things to avoid saying that may sound great in your head but will, in fact, harm your defense.
Help After an Arrest in Ventura County
If you have been arrested or are otherwise facing criminal charges in southern California, get seasoned, effective and dedicated legal help by contacting the Ventura offices of Paul Tyler for a free consultation at 805-889-9000.