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I Was Arrested. Now What?

A police officer can arrest you if you are alleged to have broken a state law or local ordnance. To be arrested means that your liberties are restricted by law enforcement, and you are not free to leave their custody. Note, however, that being arrested does not mean that you are guilty of the alleged offense. Rather, it begins a criminal justice process that determines whether you should be convicted.

Law enforcement officials cannot arrest you haphazardly. They must have the authorization or a valid reason to take you into custody. By "authorization," we mean that law enforcement officers have obtained a warrant for your arrest. A warrant is a written order signed by a judge, allowing officers to take you into custody. It can only be issued if the judge believes probable cause exists to believe that a crime has been committed or attempted to be committed and you were the one who committed it.

Absent a warrant, an officer must have a valid reason to arrest you.

There are several situations in which an officer can conduct a warrantless arrest:

  • They have reason to believe that a warrant has been issued in your name
  • They observed you committing or attempting to commit an offense
  • They have probable cause to believe that you are the person who committed an alleged offense

If an arresting officer has neither a warrant nor a valid reason to take you into custody, they could be considered to have violated your constitutional rights. In your criminal case, such violations can be raised as grounds to have evidence deemed inadmissible or the case against you dismissed.

Do I Have to Give the Police My Name?

If an officer arrests you, they might ask you for your personal identifying information. You are required to provide them with your name, your date of birth, and your address. Beyond that, you do not have to give any other information. In fact, your rights under the Fifth Amendment provide that you do not have to offer any other details aside from your identifying information.

What Are My Rights After an Arrest?

Although an arrest means that your liberties are restricted, it does not mean that your rights have been lost. You have various Constitutional protections to facilitate a fair legal process. It is important after your arrest that you exercise your rights and ensure that they are upheld.

A few of your rights after an arrest include the following:

  • Right to remain silent: As mentioned before, the Fifth Amendment provides that you do not have to give law enforcement officials any statements after being taken into custody. Specifically, the Fifth Amendment states that a person in a criminal case shall not be compelled to be a witness against themselves. This protects against individuals unknowingly providing incriminating statements that can be used against them in their criminal case.
  • Right to the assistance of counsel: This is a protection under the Sixth Amendment and means that you can have a criminal defense attorney represent you and provide advice and guidance throughout your case. It is such an important right, that if you are unable to afford a private lawyer, you can have one appointed to you without cost.
  • Right against excessive bail: Under the Eighth Amendment, you cannot be subject to a bail amount that is so high it serves merely as a means of punishment. If a judge grants bail, it should be reasonable enough that it assures the safety of the community as well as your return to court when required.

If any of your rights were violated, you could seek to have evidence gathered against you thrown out.

What Is the Process After an Arrest?

After you are arrested, and before police question you, an officer should inform you of your Fifth and Sixth Amendment Rights. Referred to as the Miranda warning, the admonishment lets you know that you have the right to remain silent and any statements you make can be used against you. It also ensures that you are aware that you can have an attorney present and may be provided with a public defender if you cannot afford to hire a private attorney.

To exercise your rights, you must explicitly state that you are asserting them. Officers cannot force you to answer questions or sign anything while you are in custody. If they do, that may serve, once again, as a reason to have evidence deemed inadmissible in court.

Law enforcement officials will also review the evidence to determine whether probable cause exists to charge you with a crime. Their determination will be reviewed by a prosecutor and the court. Probable cause means that there were reasonable grounds to believe that a crime was or attempted to be committed and that the person arrested committed it.

You will then proceed through various processes, including the following:

  • Booking: A law enforcement official will get your personal information and fingerprints and take a photograph of you to log into their system.
  • Making phone calls: You will be permitted to make phone calls to a responsible adult of your choosing, including a friend, family member, or criminal defense lawyer. Note that if you contact anyone besides an attorney, officers could listen in on your call. Thus, it is important to provide only the information necessary for your loved ones to locate you. Any details beyond that can be used against you in court.
  • Initial proceeding: You must be taken before a judge without unnecessary delay. During your initial appearance, the judge will inform you of and ensure that you understand the charges against you. They may also set bail.
  • Posting bail: Bail is money you pay to get out of jail after an arrest. It ensures that you will appear in court for all necessary proceedings. Bail is set in most cases and is either based on a predetermined amount or is set by a judge. Depending on your situation, you can be released without having to pay the court.

Being arrested in Chicago can be overwhelming, which is why it is crucial to speak with an attorney. They can help you understand your rights and what to expect during the process. Additionally, they can ensure that you do not say or do anything that could hurt your case later. Retaining legal counsel early on gives your attorney time to build a defense on your behalf.

At the Law Office of Steven Fine, we are prepared to defend you regardless of the reason for your arrest. Schedule a free initial consultation by calling us at (312) 436-0638 or contacting us online today.