Being arrested can be incredibly scary and you may not know what rights you are entitled to during this process. To ensure your case goes as smoothly as possible, we at Gracia & Mintz have collected the following information for your benefit. This way, you can know what to expect, what your rights are, and what you should do if you ever find yourself in this situation. Knowledge is power, and the more you know, the more confident you can feel after your arrest.
If you are charged with a crime, it is best you go with the police. Fighting them or attempting to run away may be used against you in court. It is also imperative you tell the arresting officer you wish to speak with an attorney prior to answering any of their questions. By law, you are allowed to hire a lawyer who can represent you and speak with the police on your behalf. When your attorney arrives at the police station, you have the right to speak with them in a private area.
The only time you need to answer police questions is when they ask your name. Questions relating to your charges can be answered by your lawyer when they arrive at the station. If you do speak with the police, do not lie to them. Individuals who need an interpreter should notify the police and their lawyer right away to ensure nothing is "lost in translation."
What Occurs after Your Arrest
A police officer has the legal right to arrest you when they have an arrest warrant. If the judge has signed said form, the police can arrest you after you have seen or been informed of the arrest warrant. The arresting officer must tell you why you are being arrested and you must be able to understand said charges. In less severe criminal cases, a police officer can arrest you without a warrant and they witness you committing a crime.
After the police bring you the police station, you must undergo the booking process. This is when your fingerprints will be taken and you will be photographed. You most likely will then be lead to a holding cell, where you must wait until you appear before a judge or magistrate. If you hire an attorney to represent you, you may also leave the cell to speak with them.
When you appear in front of a judge, you must plead guilty or not guilty, and bail bond issues will be addressed at said time. If you do not have a lawyer at this point, the judge can decide whether or not to appoint a public defender on your behalf. If you are allowed bail and someone posts your bail, you must still appear in court. If you do not appear in court, you can be arrested again and you may not be given the option of bail.
The Arraignment and Trial Process
If you are charged with a crime, you must go to court for an arraignment hearing. This is when your charges will be read to you and you enter a plea. You have legal rights to be present at your arraignment, as well as have an attorney present to represent you. A lawyer is extremely beneficial to have during an arraignment because they can help explain your charges and enter a plea on your behalf.
Depending on your case, you may be offered a plea bargain or you may be expected to go to trial for your case. Anything you say and do the moment you are arrested may be used against you during your trial, which is why it is vital you remain calm and speak with your attorney as soon as possible. Even if you are facing minor charges, it is not advised you represent yourself, as you may incur harsher penalties.
Our Prince George's County criminal defense lawyers at Gracia & Mintz have successfully handled thousands of cases and are available 24/7 for clients. Regardless if this is your first, second, or subsequent criminal charge, we can help assist and represent you during your case. Our lawyers are former prosecutors and their knowledge of the criminal defense system can work in your favor. Please call us today if you are facing criminal charges and wish to receive a complimentary case evaluation.