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Rights You Need to Know if You are Arrested

If you have an encounter with the police and are facing arrest there are several things you should be aware of. To begin with, it is important to know that you are, in fact, being arrested. An arrest occurs when actions are taken to place you in physical custody in order to charge you with a crime. If you are unclear whether you are being temporarily held to be questioned about a crime or if you are being arrested, it is important to ask if you are being placed under arrest. If you are not under arrest, you are not required to remain in police custody indefinitely. In other words, police may bring you in for questioning as a suspect, but not have enough evidence to charge you with a crime and arrest you. In this instance, the police may hold you in custody for a limited amount of time to determine if an arrest is warranted or not.

When it is clear that you are being placed under arrest, it is important that you remain calm and compliant. Resisting arrest, even if you are innocent, can result in more charges. Therefore, it is best to follow the instructions of the arresting officer and wait for the appropriate time to contest your arrest. While police officers may use reasonable force during your arrest, they must take care to treat you humanely; therefore, the more cooperative you are, the less likely you are to be injured and the less justified the police are in using force.

When you are being arrested, police officers may search you, your clothing and the area you are arrested in. An officer does not need a warrant if you are being legally arrested since they are searching for evidence of the crime you are being arrested for. If you are not being arrested, you are not required to submit to a search.

At the time of your arrest the police must inform you of your Miranda Rights (see What are Miranda Rights?). Miranda rights are read to you upon arrest and before an officer can legally question you about your involvement in a crime. This statement is meant to inform you of your right to not incriminate yourself and have legal counsel present when you are questioned. If you are not read your Miranda rights, information you disclose about possible criminal involvement may not be used against you in a court of law.