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What Are My Rights if I Am Arrested By a Police Officer?

 Posted on August 29,2019 in Criminal Defense

Santa Cruz criminal law attorney arrest rights

Getting arrested is stressful for anyone. An arrest may come unexpectedly, and you may be unsure about how to act. Regardless of the alleged offense for which you are being arrested, you continue to have rights after being detained. By understanding these rights, you can keep yourself safe and ensure that you are able to defend against any criminal charges resulting from the arrest. 

Your Rights During an Arrest

When being arrested, you have the right to remain silent. You can exercise this right at any time, but there are only specific circumstances where a police officer is required to state this right. Miranda rights are only given when a person is in custody and will be interrogated. If these rights are not read during an arrest, they should be read before the interrogation. The Miranda admonition states that you have the right to remain silent, that anything you say can be used against you, that you have the right to an attorney, and that you have the right to a court-appointed attorney if you cannot afford to hire an attorney. If you intend to stay silent until a lawyer is present, you can (and should) make that verbally clear to the arresting officer. If you cannot afford a lawyer, the state must provide one for you. Here in Santa Cruz, we have excellent state appointed attorneys, also known as public defenders. 

An arresting officer has the right to pat you down to determine whether you may be carrying a weapon that may threaten their safety, but you do not have to consent to a search of your body or your property. If you object, this may not stop a police officer from searching you, but it may help protect your rights later on. You can be cooperative and respectful while also verbally asserting that you do not consent to any searches.

To protect yourself physically and to prevent additional charges, it is important to stay calm during an arrest. No one wants to get arrested, but resisting, attempting to flee, or otherwise obstructing an officer’s duties can put your life at risk. In addition to being respectful and cooperative during an arrest, you should not lie or provide false documents or information to the police. Again – you do not have to speak to arresting officers other than to say, “I respectfully request to have an attorney present prior to questioning.” 

When being detained, you continue to have the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney. It will typically be in your best interests to avoid providing any information without having a lawyer present. While you are being detained, you have the right to make a local phone call. The police can listen in to a phone call to anyone other than an attorney. 

Contact a Santa Cruz Criminal Defense Lawyer

Dealing with the police during an arrest can be difficult, and any mistakes made can have serious legal consequences. Everyone has the right to an attorney, and before providing any information to the police, you can contact an experienced Santa Cruz criminal defense attorney at the law office of John W. Thornton. Call us today at 831-426-5800 for a free consultation.


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