There are few things more terrifying than an arrest. Emotions run high, especially fear, and anger. You may also be humiliated and outraged, especially if you know you’re innocent.
It’s really easy to make mistakes under these circumstances. These mistakes can cost you your freedom, even if you are innocent.
Resisting arrest, or appearing to.
Running, fighting with the cops, and even touching a cop in any way can give them grounds to charge you with “resisting arrest.” This is a crime in its own right, so you may add to your charges, or create a charge that will be difficult to defend where one did not exist.
Once a cop decides to arrest you there’s not much you can do to stop it. The key is to get through it as quickly and as comfortably as you can.
Insulting the cops.
While you can’t earn any additional charges by insulting the cops, you can inspire them to make your life more difficult than it has to be. They can delay every step of the process and find perfectly legal ways to make your incarceration even more unpleasant.
Insults and threats won’t stop you from getting arrested. In addition, if the police get tapes of you yelling abuse at the cops it could be used against you in a court of law, making you look less sympathetic and guiltier than ever.
Protesting your innocence.
Once the cops have decided to arrest you they have decided you are guilty. Fortunately they only get to arrest you. Guilt or innocence is determined in the courts.
The more you argue the more you’ll anger them (see above). You also might let some detail slip that could be used against you later. It’s just not worth it.
Answering questions in the interrogation room.
Police can lie to you legally to try to trick you into incriminating yourself. One little innocuous fact you let slip, like, “I bought chips at the convenience store on 46th Street,” could place you close to a scene of a crime.
Give your name and your address. Then say, “I’m invoking my rights to silence and to counsel.”
If you intend to hire a private lawyer you can say, “I intend to hire a private lawyer, so I’d appreciate the opportunity to make some phone calls as soon as possible.” Then, keep your mouth shut.
There is not a single thing you can say that will make police let you go. There is plenty you can say that may assure they never will.
You might even end up making a false confession, even if that seems impossible as you read this blog post.
You don’t have to sign anything, and you shouldn’t. You could be signing a waiver of rights, a confession someone has written out for you, or anything else that could cause serious problems down the line.
Just say, “I will not sign anything until my attorney has had a chance to review any and all documentation,” and leave it at that.
Lying to the police.
Lying to the police is a crime. Like resisting arrest, even a small lie could create criminal charges where none really existed. The police might not have had much of a case for whatever they arrested you for, after all.
Just stick to your right to remain silent, your right to counsel, and your intention to invoke both rights. You don’t need to volunteer any more information, true or false.
Failing to seek out a private lawyer.
The public defenders are passionate, good people. They are also so busy they can’t necessarily come down to the jail to talk you through every aspect of the process. You might not even meet your PD until a few minutes before your first hearing.
A private lawyer can come down to the jail, spend a great deal of time listening to what you’ve got to say, and walk you through the process. He or she may be able to talk you out of police custody or any charges that might stick.
A good private criminal lawyer will work with you on the money. Don’t worry about that. You’ll lose far more money if you end up sitting in jail longer than you have to. Get someone who has your back. You’ll be glad you did.