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I’ve been arrested. What Do I Do Now?

Updated on February 11, 2013

If you have been arrested for the first time, you are probably scared and confused.  What should you do now?  How can you make the situation better, or maybe even more importantly, how do you prevent making it any worse?

Step One. Keep Quiet.

The only information you are required to give the police is your identity.  Once you have been arrested, the police will do their best to get you to say something…anything…incriminating.  They may act like they are concerned for you and only want to help get you through this situation, but you must not trust them.  They know you are afraid and they will use that fear against you.  It’s vital that you maintain your cool and calmly speak just one sentence:  I want an attorney present.  That is your right and they cannot prevent you from having a lawyer with you before you answer any questions.  They will try to intimidate you into waiving that right, but don’t do it. 

Stay Calm

It may be difficult, but it is important that you remain calm when in custody.  Remember, video cameras may be present, and the law enforcement officers are continuously making notes about your behavior.  You do not want to give them any reason to be able to use your own actions against you in the courtroom.

When Bail is Set

When informed that your bail has been set, ask to make a phone call so you may contact someone to help you.  It could be a friend or family member or your attorney.  When you make your call, remember that the police are listening.  Do not discuss why you are in jail.  Keep your call as short as possible and only discuss the necessities to arrange for your bail.

After your Release

Once you are out of jail, do not discuss your case with anyone except your attorney. Certainly do not tell anyone you are guilty of the crime.  If that person were called as a witness, they would jeopardize themselves if they held back information you had given them.  Even ask your lawyer how much you should tell your spouse.

Record Everything

As soon as possible, get a notebook and write down everything you can remember about the incident that led to your arrest.  It is important to do this while the event is fresh in your mind.  On the front cover of the notebook, write clearly “Privileged information for my attorney only. 

Get a Criminal Defense Attorney Immediately

The sooner you select a defense attorney, the better.  Your lawyer can immediately begin to assess your case and check for any improprieties.  Try to find an attorney who specializes in the type of charges you are facing.  Follow the attorney’s directions and have faith in the justice system.  Remember, you may have been arrested, but you have not been convicted.  With the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney, you may never be.  

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