Being arrested is not on most people's bucket-list. Being arrested is scary, threatening and frustrating. You might not be explained what is going on. You may feel like you were not given a specific reason why you were being detained and feel like you were unfairly detained without probable cause. Because being arrested usually occurs very infrequently in most people's lives, if at all, it is hard to know what to expect during an arrest. Without knowing what to expect, you may not know how to react appropriately and unfortunately, reacting the wrong way can result in more criminal charges and the potential for harsher sentencing. A good way to make sure you know how to react or what to do during an arrest is to inform yourself on what the arresting officer should be doing. During or immediately prior to an arrest, the officer will be asking you questions about what you were doing and may ask for some personal identification. If they decide to arrest you, they may do so without much further communication however there are some things they will say in certain circumstances. One thing your arresting officer might do is read you the Miranda Warning. The Miranda Warning consists of being read the Miranda Rights; this is also called being Mirandized. Your Miranda Rights are the rights you have as a citizen in custody. They start with the familiar, "you have a right to remain silent". This means you have the right to not answer any questions that you may be asked while in custody and that could be held against you in court, without speaking to an attorney first or having one present. The full Miranda Warning is as follows:
You have the right to remain silent. Everything you say can and will be held against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you. Do you understand the rights I have just read to you? With these rights in mind, do you wish to speak to me?
Keep in mind what the purpose of the Miranda Warning is. The office is informing you that what you say in custody may be used as evidence to convict you and that you have a right to speak to an attorney who can advise you on how best to respond to any questions. That being said, you do not have to be read the Miranda Warning to be legally arrested. The Miranda Warning is read when the officer plans to have the suspect interrogated while in custody. If no questions will be asked, you do not need to be read the Miranda Warning. The warning is just used to notify those detained and about to undergo interrogation that they can remain silent if they wish to speak to an attorney first. Keep in mind that not all arrests will lead to interrogation so not being Mirandized does not necessarily mean the arrest was not done according to procedure. You may later be Mirandized while in custody, but after the point of arrest, should an officer plan to interrogate you at that point. If you are not Mirandized prior to interrogation in custody, you are allowed to invoke those rights by asking to speak to an attorney before you say anything. If you are not Mirandized and you still answer questions, what you say may be deemed inadmissible as evidence. Depending on the reason for the arrest, you may be told other things. If being arrested for a DUI, you should be told that you have the right to take a blood test rather than a breathalyzer test to measure your blood alcohol concentration, or BAC. You have to take one of these tests however you should be given a choice between the two. It is likely the officer arresting you will inform you why you are being arrested but keep in mind that they may not necessarily have to tell you. If undercover or while in plain clothes, an officer also has the obligation to disclose their identify. If you have been arrested and feel that the officer failed to disclose any required information to you, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney. Procedure is important to any law enforcement system and sometimes defendants are acquitted of their charges because the officer who arrested them did not follow procedure. What an officer may say to you when arresting you and taking you in to custody is said for your benefit as well as theirs. The system works better when procedure is followed however police officers make mistakes a well. Your rights are important and every citizen deserves to be read their rights and to be told any information they have a right to hear during an arrest.
Have you or a loved one recently been arrested and have questions about the process? Tulare County criminal defense attorney Christopher Martens can make sure your rights are recognized in court. Serving the Visalia and Fresno areas, The Law Offices of Christopher Martens can provide expert criminal defense counsel. Call our office at 559-967-7386 or email us at [email protected] for a free consultation.