Most people do not plan ahead for being arrested, but it does happen, and when it does, knowing what to do to protect yourself and your rights is vital, especially if you are going into a situation where there might be a high risk of arrest. That includes both situations where you might be arrested on pretexts, such as disturbing the peace, and those where you might expect to be arrested due to your role in a situation.
Conditions for arrest
You might not realize how often those risky activities occur. Common causes for an arrest include the following:
- Participating in public protests
- Involvement in domestic disputes, even as a third party
- Mistaken identity or mass arrests, as when a bar fight breaks out
In addition to those activities, people are also arrested every day for driving under the influence, drug charges and a variety of other unexpected charges.
When the officer first informs you that you are under arrest, you will be handcuffed and taken to the precinct nearest where the crime occurred for initial processing. During this phase, you can expect to be asked for information that helps to identify you, such as your name and address. After that, you go to booking. If you know in advance that you might be arrested because you are going into a high-risk situation like the ones described above, then it helps to limit the number of personal belongings on you and to make sure you have two forms of identification and spare change for phone calls; one of the few places you can still find pay phones is in jail.
It is also worth noting that if you have anything the jail considers contraband, whether it is drug related, weaponry or something else entirely, it will be taken as evidence, and it is likely you will be charged with another crime relating to it.
Contacting an attorney
Before participating in any questioning with law enforcement, whether it is before or after your arrest, you should contact an experienced criminal defense attorney who can help you understand your rights. Police are supposed to read you Miranda rights before questioning you, but the timing of that reading and misunderstandings about what it means can wind up causing unforeseen problems. This i s why it is best to insist on being put in touch with an attorney before divulging any other information to the police.
After you have conferred with an attorney, you will have a much better idea about how to cooperate without putting your own rights at risk. If you are arrested because of proximity to a crime, this is important.