Getting arrested is no fun. But remember: Despite how it may feel when officers handcuff you and give you a ride in their cruiser, you still have rights that they can't violate.
Some of these rights, namely your Miranda rights, should be recited to you before police begin their questioning. But there are others that won't be clarified or even mentioned while you're in police custody. Those rights you have to just know.
In the blur after you've been arrested, it might help to keep these five things in mind:
- Make sure it's an arrest. There's a difference between being detained and being arrested, which is also different from being asked in for questioning. If no officer says "you're under arrest," ask if you're free to go. If the answer is no, ask why you're being held.
- Be careful what you say. Besides giving your name and birthdate, you have the right to remain silent -- but it's more like a privilege. Take advantage of it and don't say anything you might regret. Better yet, don't say anything except that you're invoking the right to remain silent and ask for an attorney.
- Invoke your right to an attorney. As part of your Miranda rights, police will tell you that you have the right to an attorney. What they don't say is that you have to ask for an attorney when you're being questioned after an arrest. Police will likely just start asking questions, and it's up to you to say you won't answer anything without an attorney.
- Make mental notes. Improper police conduct can get your case thrown out, but it's hard to remember what is and isn't OK for police to do after an arrest. What's easier is to remember how you were treated and what was said. Share that information with your attorney later, so he or she can sort it out.
- Don't believe everything you hear. Police can't coerce your answers in any way, but that doesn't mean they have to play fair. They can lie and try to trick you into revealing information you would keep secret. Just keep your head down and don't say anything, even if they say they caught the whole thing on tape.