One of the most stressful situations a person can experience is being arrested. No matter the circumstances, there’s so much going on at once: A rush of adrenaline, fear, anger, and worry about what will happen next.
Should you try to explain the situation to the police officers? Should you remain silent until you speak to an attorney? How will this come to pass?
Although being carted off to jail is not a pleasant experience, it does familiarize you with the process. Knowing what to expect will help you to decide your next move.
What Happens When You’re Arrested?
If you’ve watched enough TV, you’ve likely heard cops tell a defendant that they have the right to remain silent and that everything they say can be used against them. This is not just clever script writing. Those words are part of the Miranda Rights.
What are Miranda Rights?
Miranda rights got their name in 1966 when the Supreme Court of the United States reviewed the case of Miranda v. Arizona. In that case, a man named Ernesto Miranda was identified in a police lineup by a woman who had been kidnapped and raped. After identifying the man, the police questioned him for several hours. His statements were later used against him in court, and he was convicted and sentenced to 20-30 years in prison.
The Constitution of the United States is very clear on the rights of a criminal defendant. These include the 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination and the 6th Amendment right to an attorney. Based on this, Miranda’s attorney appealed the case to the Arizona Supreme Court, who upheld the lower court’s decision. His attorney then appealed to the US Supreme Court, who agreed to hear the case.
In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Ernesto Miranda, citing that criminal defendants have the following constitutional rights:
- The right to remain silent
- The right to speak with an attorney
- The right to have an attorney present during interrogation
- The right to a public defender if the defendant cannot afford a lawyer
- Everything they say can be used against them in Court
The Court established that unless a defendant is explicitly informed of these rights at the time of their arrest and subsequent interrogation, nothing they say can be used as evidence against them at trial.
Even if a defendant starts to talk during an interrogation, and decides mid-story that they want to talk to an attorney, the interrogation must stop. These rights apply regardless of age or citizenship status.
After the arrest, the defendant will be booked at the jail or police station. This involves creating a record with the person’s full name, fingerprints, and photographs.
2. Phone Calls
Once a criminal defendant has been booked, they are allowed to make three local phone calls. If calling long distance, the phone call must be a collect call. A defendant should be careful about what they say during a phone conversation. The Supreme Court of Florida has ruled that there is no expectation of privacy when placing a phone call from jail. Therefore, calls are recorded and anything spoken can be used as evidence against the defendant at trial.
3. First Appearance
Within 24 hours of an arrest, the defendant will be scheduled for their first court appearance (also known as “First Appearance”). During this hearing, the judge will inform the defendant of the charges they are facing, provide a written copy of the complaint, and the amount of bail, if any. The judge will also remind the defendant of their Miranda Rights.
The defendant does not have to speak during their First Appearance.
This is a court hearing where the defendant is formally charged and asked to enter a plea: guilty, not guilty, or no contest (nolo contendre). If the defendant enters a guilty or no contest plea, the next step is to schedule a sentencing hearing. If the defendant enters a not guilty plea, the case will proceed to trial. The court is required by law to allow the defendant reasonable time to prepare for trial.
Note that the State Attorney’s Office is the only entity that can formally charge a person with a crime. Therefore, unless someone who says that they will “press charges” is a prosecutor, they are speaking nonsense.
What Not to Do When Being Arrested
No matter how angry you are, do not argue with police officers. Don’t make threats. Don’t be belligerent. If they do anything wrong, tell your attorney and if appropriate, evidence may be thrown out if there was any police misconduct. Yet, if you resist arrest (even without violence), you can be charged with a misdemeanor.
Call Us to Discuss Your Case
At Laporte, Mulligan & Werner-Watkins, P.A., we have experienced criminal defense attorneys who can best design a strategy to help you.
Contact us, and let’s discuss your case.
Disclaimer: This blog is intended to be for informational purposes only and does not establish an attorney/client relationship.