Being arrested can feel intimidating, embarrassing, and downright terrifying. But even if you are suspected of a serious crime, you are still entitled to humane treatment and have certain rights that must be honored by police or those arresting you. Any attempt to abridge those rights or deny you of them altogether could result in dismissal of the charges against you, and depending on the severity, could even lead to civil or criminal claims against the arresting officers.
I’ve been arrested . . . now what?
From the moment officers engage with you in any sort of way for the purpose of arresting you, your Constitutional rights—particularly those outlined in the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth Amendments—should be at the forefront of your mind. Consider some of the most significant ways in which you may be affected:
- Your right to remain silent – At the time of your arrest, the arresting officers are legally required to advise you of your right to remain silent and inform you that anything you say could be used against you in legal proceedings. This and the entire Fifth Amendment is the basis of the famed Miranda warning. Also, you must unquestionably confirm your understanding of these rights once they are described to you.
- Your right to a lawyer – Another piece of the Miranda warning states, “You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you.” To expand, you are entitled to representation by a lawyer, either a criminal defense attorney you choose and pay for yourself or a public defender who is completely free of charge. You also have the right to choose to represent yourself, but at any point you can opt to seek legal counsel (and often a public defender is kept on hand during court proceedings in case you change your mind and need immediate support).
- Your right to know the charges against you – You should be advised of the crime(s) with which you are being charged at the time of your arrest. You and your attorney should obtain copies of all police reports, arrest warrants, and other documentation associated with the charges you face.
- You right to know the identity of the police officers dealing with you – You can and should ask for credentials (name, badge number, etc.) from every officer you come in contact with. If they do not offer up these details, they should be included in the documentation you obtain.
- Your right to communicate by telephone with your attorney and your family – The stereotypical “one phone call” after an arrest is a bit inaccurate. Not only do you have the right to contact an attorney (and should be provided with a phone book if you ask for one), you also have the right to alert your loved ones to your whereabouts. So at minimum, you should be granted these two calls. Furthermore, if it takes multiple phone calls to reach your attorney, you must be allowed them (within reason).
Reach out to a criminal defense attorney who will protect your rights in New York
For legal support after being arrested on criminal charges, consult the experienced criminal defense attorneys of Sayegh and Sayegh Law. Call us today (914) 222-8161 for immediate assistance, or contact us online to learn more about how we can help.