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Criminal Law FAQs

When You Get Arrested Dos & Don'ts

The Dos

Do be polite and as courteous as possible to the police.

Do ask for the police officer's name and badge number, or read it off of his or her badge. Try to remember it. Try to get a good look at the officer's face so that you can identify him or her later by that method, if necessary.

Do, if you are arrested in your car, show the police officer your driver's license and registration information. Note that in other situations where you are not stopped in your car, you cannot be arrested for the sole reason of refusing to provide information, including your name and address, to the police.

Do place your hands where the police can see them.

Do, if you are taken into custody, demand the right to have an attorney present before speaking to the police.

Do ask if you are under arrest. If you are, you have the right to be told why.

Do clearly inform the police that you will not speak to them about anything without an attorney being present.

Do, as soon as you can, write down everything that happened during the course of your arrest so that you can use that writing to refresh your memory at a later date.

Do, if you are physically injured by the police during the course of your arrest, seek medical attention and inform your medical providers of the cause of your injuries. Take photographs of your injuries as soon as possible.

Do remember that you do not need to answer ANY question that the police ask of you. If you answer a question which at first seems harmless, be aware that it may come back to haunt you later.

The Don'ts

Don't offer information to the police, no matter what tactics they use.

Don't assume that the police have a search warrant just because they say that they do. If they say they have a search warrant, ask to see it.

Don't get into an argument with the police, no matter how hard they may try to bait you into losing your temper.

Don't initiate physical contact with the police, even if you mean them no harm.

Don't give them any reason to find you threatening. Do not give them the impression that you are hard to deal with or irritating.

Don't run away from a police officer if you see one (or more) approaching you. Running away may give the police reason to suspect that you are hiding something from them, even if you are totally innocent.

Don't interfere with or obstruct the police. If you do, you can face additional criminal charges.

Don't resist arrest. Even if you think you are innocent, the time to protest comes later. If you resist arrest, you may face additional charges.

Don't allow the police to listen in on any telephone call that you make to your lawyer once you have been arrested. While the police may listen in on conversations to other individuals, they cannot listen to a conversation with your lawyer because it is protected by the attorney-client privilege.

Don't speak to the police about anything before your attorney arrives and talks to you first.

Don't provide the police with any information other than your name and address if you are arrested unless your attorney is present and approves.

Don't sign anything, no matter what it is, without an attorney being present.

Don't say anything if your attorney instructs that you remain silent. Let your attorney do the talking for you, no matter how hard it may be to resist the urge to speak.

Don't agree to participate in a line-up without your attorney being present.

Don't lie to your attorney, or to the police if you choose to talk to them.

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