Since most people will not experience getting arrested in their lives, many don't know what getting arrested means, what their rights are during and after an arrest and what they can do once arrested. This is understandable. If you've never been arrested or even known someone that has been arrested, you might think an arrest is the end of the world. In actuality, an arrest is just one step in a long process of criminal prosecution. Not all arrests will end in a criminal conviction. An officer can make an arrest based off a variety of factors. They do not necessarily need to have all the evidence needed to convict you. They are really just the front end of the system that deals with criminals. Innocent people are arrested every day, due to racial profiling, prejudices or just misidentification. The system isn't perfect but it makes an effort at putting dangerous people behind bars. Unfortunately, many people who pose no threat to society are jailed all the time. If you are one of these people, don't be too discouraged. You could be arrested because an officer suspected you committed a crime, even if he or she did not witness you do anything. You could be arrested by looking like someone who committed a crime or is believed to have committed a crime. You could even be arrested by simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time, in a situation where it seems you have committed a crime. As you can see, there are many cases where an arrest does not have to end in a conviction. These arrests may not be necessarily wrongful, although they can be. An officer needs only to have probable cause to arrest you. You are protected under the Fourth Amendment from unreasonable search and seizure, which includes wrongful arrests. However, if an officer has reason to believe you committed a crime, he or she can lawfully detain you and bring you into custody. That isn't enough to convict you, however. Once arrested, the criminal prosecution process needs to continue for it to end in a conviction. You will be held in custody or let go on bail or on your own recognizance. You will then be arraigned in court. An arraignment is a hearing where the case facts are disclosed and the charges being laid against you are read. If the evidence is sufficient to convict you beyond a reasonable doubt and/or you plead guilty or no-contest, the prosecution and the judge may then work together to determine an appropriate charge and associated punishment. If you plead not guilty and raise objection to the evidence against you, your case may go to trial where a judge or jury will decide upon your charge. At the point of arrest, there may be enough evidence gathered to convict you however that evidence needs to be presented to and reviewed by the prosecution and, in most cases, you still need to be arraigned. Here is where a criminal defense attorney comes in handy. After you are arrested, don't answer any questions you don't have to. You should be read your Miranda Rights before being questioned; take advantage of these rights and ask, politely, to speak to an attorney or have a public defender appointed to you if you can't afford an attorney. Do not resist arrest under any circumstances. Resisting arrest is a serious charge in and of itself. Resisting arrest can also significantly hurt your chances at negotiating a lighter sentence. After your arrest, contact an attorney as soon as you can. Discuss your case with him or her and inquire about your options. A skilled criminal defense attorney will be able to advise you on the most likely outcome of your case and discuss with you any potential defense strategies they find relevant to your case. A good attorney can mean the difference between a conviction and you walking away with no more than an arrest on your record so make sure to at least get a consultation prior to your arraignment. Understanding the legal process after an arrest can be hard, especially if you are still in custody or are dealing with many other issues that resulted from your arrest. Fortunately, there are attorneys and public defenders that can help you navigate the criminal justice system.
Have you or a loved one been arrest and have questions about what happens next? Contact attorney Christopher Martens and his legal team. Experienced in criminal defense and criminal trial defense, Mr. Martens will fight for your case and can ensure you have a strong defense. Call our Visalia or Hanford, CA offices at 559-967-7386 or email us at [email protected] for a free consultation.