According to recent records, over 12 million people were arrested in the United States in 2011; that equals one out of every 25 people. It’s easy to think ‘that can’t happen to me’ but the reality is that it could happen to anyone. During my years of practice I’ve seen many people who fit the bill as law-abiding, upstanding citizens arrested for various crimes, often ones they didn’t commit. I know of one man who was arrested for simply trying to reenter his daughter’s high school graduation ceremony after the doors had closed after stepping out to take a phone call.
So, what should you do if you are arrested? Do your actions following arrest depend on whether you’re guilty of the crime or not? In my opinion, it’s important to follow two simple rules if you’ve been arrested, regardless of your guilt.
DO NOT TALK TO THE POLICE FOLLOWING ARREST
First, under no circumstances should you talk to the police. It’s easy to think that if you haven’t committed a crime then you have nothing to fear from talking with them, but the truth is that you have absolutely everything to fear. If you are in custody, the police are not going to release you because they’ve now heard your side of the story. What they will do is take every single thing you say and do their best to make it work for their case against you.
There seems to be an assumption by the public that the police will somehow like you better and go easier on you if you cooperate. The police want you to believe that. It is, however, NOT true. The cops are looking for evidence against you and they will twist anything you say to use it against you. If you want to cooperate with authorities, do so only after having consulted with a lawyer and have your lawyer present during your conversations with the police.
Some people believe that if they don’t talk with the police and their case goes to trial, the jury will look poorly on them for not talking. The truth is that our Constitution protects us from having to talk to the police and, as such, a jury is never allowed to hear that you exercised your right not to talk to the police. The police won’t like you for it, but that doesn’t matter because they aren’t the ones who ultimately decide whether you’re guilty of the crime.
HIRE AN ATTORNEY QUICKLY ONCE ARRESTED
The second rule is to hire an attorney as quickly as possible following your arrest. The faster the attorney gets involved in the case, the more he/she will be able to do to help your case. Witnesses’ memories are always fresher and more accurate closer to the actual event than weeks or months later. Certain evidence (like phone records, 911 calls, surveillance videos, etc…) is destroyed within weeks or months of its creation. If the evidence isn’t obtained quickly, it may not ever be obtained at all.
If you’ve been arrested or know someone who has, please give us a call at 404-474-2531 for a free and confidential consultation.