An arrest could be an unpleasant experience to anybody. For many, even just the thought of getting arrested is frightening. But have you ever wondered about a person’s right during an arrest? What if you think that you should not be arrested in the first place? Is it alright to resist the arrest? Learning the answers to these questions can be beneficial.
What is an arrest? It happens when the police take the person into their custody because he is suspected of committing, or even planning, a crime. Yes, they have the legal authority to do so, given that there really is a probable cause for an arrest. But, don’t they need a warrant in order to carry out the arrest? If the police officers have good reasons, like personally being able to observe the crime or having concrete evidence for the crime and not just vague suspicion, the authorities arrest the person. But when an arrest is done in the person’s home, then a warrant is required.
We often see on television that during an arrest, the police officer tells the arrested person that he has the right to remain silent and that he can have an attorney. That scene is almost similar in real life. Those rights read to the suspect are called Miranda rights. Technically, authorities do not need to read the Miranda rights before an arrest. The rights should be read before an interrogation—before any questioning. But usually, the interrogation happens during the arrest, thus the Miranda rights really need to be read. What are these rights?
First, you can choose to remain or keep silent. Any detail that you tell them will soon be used to accuse you. However, you have to assert that you are exercising your right to remain silent. After affirming your right, do not answer any more questions. Why? If you do so, your right to remain silent will become void—and any answer you give after that can be charged against you in trial. The only questions that you can answer are those that identify you, such as your name and address.
The questions that authorities ask might seem harmless. But whatever inconsistency in your statements, even unintentional lapses in details, can mean dishonesty and can sow doubt. If, however, the Miranda warning was not read to you before any questioning, then your words can never be used to accuse you in trial. Keep in mind, though, that after declaring your right to remain silent, mean it and speak only to your attorney. It could mean that you may need to be in police custody for hours until the attorney arrives. However long it takes, do not answer any questions until your lawyer arrives. If you do not have the resources to have an attorney, the Public Defender office can provide an attorney for you.Getting arrested may be a horrible experience, but if we are knowledgeable about our rights during an arrest, we can deal with it successfully. If you feel like the arrest was not justified, or you think you were wrongly accused, you can challenge the arrest later on. But during the arrest, avoid resisting or arguing with authorities. Treat them with respect and kindness. Just follow the due process, and ask your lawyer to help you challenge the arrest.