There’s no doubt about it, being arrested in the state of California is an overwhelming experience. Knowing your rights and understanding the legal system can help you get through your arrest safely and decrease your chances of receiving a criminal conviction.

Defining an Arrest

First, it’s important to understand the difference between arrest and detention, since many people incorrectly assume they are the same thing. The major distinction between the two is that detention involves being held for questioning, typically for a short amount of time, by authorities who have reason to suspect you of committing a crime. Arrest, on the other hand, is actually being taken into custody by police through a more significant restraint on movement such as handcuffs.

Who Has the Authority to Arrest Me?

Whether they are on or off duty, all law enforcement officers have the authority to arrest you. This power also extends to probation and parole officers as well. If they have probable cause or good reason to suspect you committed a felony, an arrest warrant is not required to arrest you. While it’s not required that law enforcement witness you commit a felony in order to arrest you, they do have to see you commit a misdemeanor at minimum.

Although rare, anyone can make a citizen’s arrest if they see a misdemeanor being attempted or committed. A felony arrest can also be legally made as long as it actually was committed or they have good reason to suspect you committed it. The arresting citizen must then take you to a police officer or judge who is legally bound to take you into custody.

Miranda Rights

If you’ve ever watched crime movies or television shows then chances are you know what Miranda rights are, even if you didn’t know what they were called. Once you’ve been arrested, a law enforcement officer must inform you of your Miranda rights before questioning you. They are as follows:

  • You have the right to remain silent.
  • Anything you say may be used against you.
  • You have a right to have a lawyer present while you are questioned.
  • If you cannot afford a lawyer, one will be appointed for you.

Your Miranda rights are incredibly important. If you are not given these warnings by police, your lawyer can request that your statements in response to police questioning be thrown out. However, this does not apply to information that you voluntarily supplied outside of police questioning.

Police Questioning

Once your Miranda rights have been read, you have a decision to make. You may choose to either waive your Miranda rights and respond to police questioning or say nothing and request a lawyer. If you do choose to respond to police questions, you may cease the process at any time by saying that you want a lawyer. Any questions after this point cannot be used in a court of law.

Depending on your situation, you may be required to provide physical evidence. For example, if you refuse to take a breathalyzer test while being suspected of DUI, your driver’s license can be suspended and your non-compliance will be used against you in court.

When Should I Get in Touch with a Lawyer?

Whenever legal matters are concerned, it’s best to get in touch with a lawyer as soon as possible. This holds even more true if you’ve been accused of a serious crime such as assault or murder. A good lawyer helps to ensure that communication between you and law enforcement isn’t misinterpreted and can help explain to you and your family how the bail process works.

If you cannot afford a lawyer that does not mean no one will represent you. As guaranteed in your Miranda rights, everyone charged with a crime has a right to legal counsel and thus a public defender or other court appointed attorney will be provided to you.

Go With an Experienced Attorney

As a greater Los Angeles criminal defense attorney with more than 30 years of legal experience I, Robert M. Helfend, am uniquely equipped to handle your arrest and any subsequent criminal charges.

Over the course of my career, I’ve proved that favorable results aren’t a coincidence. They’re the result of a lot of long hours, determination, and relentless defense tactics.

If you want to avoid a formal conviction, you need someone who will give you their sole focus and attention. I make my clients top priority and do everything I can to prevent a criminal conviction from ruining their life.

If you need a rock solid attorney skilled in criminal law, DUI/DWI, white collar, and federal crimes, contact me today.