Your Rights If Arrested
Jeffrey K. Rubenstein (Criminal Defense Attorney) gives expert video advice on: Once the police have arrested me, do I have to answer their questions?; Is it legal for the police to lie when they are interrogating me?; If I'm innocent, should I talk to the police? and more...
Are the police required to tell me what I'm being arrested for?
The police are not required to tell you what you are being arrested for. Within 72 hours of being arrested, you have the right to be brought before a magistrate or released. When you are brought before a magistrate, that's when the charges you were arrested for will be read against you.
Do my rights change when I'm under arrest?
When under arrest, you have the right to remain silent. If the police are going to question you, you have the right to an attorney. You also have the right to be brought before a magistrate within 72 hours of arrest and charged. You also have to be treated reasonably.
Can the charges the police arrested me for be changed?
The charges the police arrested you for can absolutely be changed. The police officers aren't lawyers. They have probable cause to believe a crime has been committed. For instance, they might find somebody with drugs on them. They might find a large amount of cash. They may arrest them for drug dealing or drug possession. A lawyer, a district attorney, would then review the file, review the law, and place charges on them. The lawyers are the ones that know what the law is and what charges should be filed. Charges are often enhanced; sometimes there's not enough there, and charges are dismissed. It's up to the prosecuting attorneys to decide what the charges are.
Once the police have arrested me, do I have to answer their questions?
Once the police have arrested you, you do not have to answer their questions. You always have the right to remain silent. You should never answer the police's questions. You should never talk your way out of it. The problem that people have is they always believe that they can talk their way out of it because they've talked their way out of it in the past. You should never assume that. You should always ask for a lawyer before answering and of the police's questions.
Is it legal for the police to lie when they are interrogating me?
It is legal for the police to lie when they are interrogating you. The police lie all the time about evidence against you. It is a accepted interrogation technique to lie to you and to present false evidence.
If I'm innocent, should I talk to the police?
If you are innocent, you should not talk to the police and it is especially important to have a lawyer. Innocent people or people that are being questioned by the police call me all the time for representation. You need to be protected by a lawyer. Our prisons are full of people who claim they're innocent, and some of those people are actually telling the truth.
Can I sign away my rights?
Certain rights you can sign away. You can sign away your right to remain silent. The rights have to be under a three-pronged test: they must be knowing, intelligent, and voluntary. What does that mean? You have to understand the language, you have to not be under the influence of drugs, you have to not be under the threat of intimidation. As long as it's basically free and voluntary and you understand what you're doing you can give away certain rights.
When can someone perform a "citizen's arrest"?
If a crime is committed, in your presence, a person can make a citizen's arrest. This usually comes up, in what we call battery between two individuals. Two neighbours are fighting and somebody punches somebody else or throws something at somebody else, this is usually where a citizen's arrest come into effect.
How long can I be detained without being formally arrested?
That depends. The answer is you can be detained without being formally arrested for as long as it reasonably takes the police to conduct an investigation.
What is the "booking process"?
The booking process is the process by which people are processed into the police department or into the jails, once they have been arrested, but often before they are charged. The booking process starts when they are photographed (the mug shot) - front, sideways. Then, they are fingerprinted - they do the old ink blots, but now much of it is computerised. Police run the fingerprints through the computer and assign people a number and process them into the jail. The booking process is a processing and tracking system for law enforcement and the courts to keep track of you.