What To Do If You've Just Been Arrested

What To Do If You’ve Just Been Arrested

by Jul 17, 2018

Getting arrested sucks, plain and simple. If you’ve just been arrested, or are going to knowingly put yourself in a situation (like a protest, for example) where getting arrested is a possibility, there are several things you should and should not do to make your situation better.

What Not To Do

Frankly, what you shouldn’t do if you’ve just been arrested is more important than what you should do. Ignoring the following advice can lead to additional charges, a longer processing time, and possibly retaliation by the arresting officers.

1) Don’t Talk

It’s one of the biggest clichés in movies and television, but it’s absolutely true. You have the legal right to remain silent, and you should stop talking the moment you realize you’ve been arrested. The likelihood of you saying anything that will convince a police officer to let you go or that he’s made a mistake is absolutely zero.

2) Don’t Resist Arrest

As absolutely horrifying, unfair, and demoralizing as getting arrested can be, resisting an arrest makes your legal trouble much worse. Any physical contact you initiate with an officer–punching, kicking, pushing, biting, or even just swatting away their hands–adds additional charges to your case and immediately elevates a misdemeanor to a felony.

3) Don’t Run Away

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last five years, you’ve probably seen at least a half dozen cases of suspects being shot by police officers while trying to run away from an police stop or an arrest. Do not run away.

Additionally, if you run away and are later caught and go to trial, the district attorney may be able to get a special jury instruction which would be read to the jury called “consciousness of guilt” whereby the jury is basically told “guilty people run, innocent people don’t”.

4) Don’t Believe The Police

Many people don’t know this, but it is perfectly legal for the police to lie to you to try and get you to confess to a crime. In fact, it’s a technique they are trained to use and includes things like telling you they have witnesses, DNA, video, or even fingerprints to prove you did it.

One you’ve been arrested, your safest option is to assume that anything an officer tells you is a lie and to not respond to them under any circumstances. Wait for your attorney and let them speak on your behalf.

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What You Should Do

While the list above can make it seem like remaining silent and as motionless as possible is the best course of action, there are some things that you can do if you’ve been arrested that can make the process a little easier.

Be Polite And Respectful

While this is much easier said than done, and can heavily depend on the circumstances of your arrest, being polite–or at least not hostile–to the police will go a long way.

If you yell, swear at, or berate the arresting officers, there are all kinds of things they can do to make your journey more miserable. For example, they might:

  • Wait to fingerprint you
  • Delay transporting you to the courthouse
  • Claim they need to come back the next day to process your arrest
  • Delay speaking with the district attorney’s office to get paperwork

Basically, if you try and mess with the cops, they’ll mess with your right back, and they have a lot more leverage than you do.

Answer Processing Questions

The lone exception to the “do not talk” rule is when you are being booked and the police ask for basic information like your name, address, and social security number. These go on your booking form and if you refuse to answer them, you will be booked as a John or Jane Doe.

Being booked anonymously means you’re almost guaranteed to be held longer than if you provide the information they request.

Call An Attorney As Soon As Possible

If you’ve been arrested, the first (and ideally, only) words out of your mouth should be “I would like to speak with an attorney”. After that, stop talking until you are given the chance to call a lawyer.

An experienced criminal defense attorney will evaluate your case and determine what the best next steps are to help you get out of jail as quickly as possible.


At Quinnan Law, we offer every client a free phone consultation to discuss their unique situation and determine how we can help. To arrange a consultation, please fill out the adjacent form or call us at: (707) 540-2356.

We provide representation in California State and Federal Courts. We accept most major credit cards for your convenience.

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