Getting arrested can be the most distressing part of being prosecuted.
Unfortunately, stress often leads to bad decisions. For example, you might decide to speak with police while you're under arrest. You might consent to police searching your home, your car, or your smart phone.
Protect yourself. Hire a criminal defense lawyer immediately to help you make good decisions while you're under arrest.
Some arrests occur with advance notice.
You might find a business card on the floor when you come home from work. Someone slid it under your door. Printed on the front: "NYPD", a detective’s name, and a phone number. Handwritten on the back: “Important. Please call.”
Or maybe you receive a phone call. You don't recognize the number, or the caller ID is blocked. You answer. It’s a police officer. He wants you to come down to the station. “When’s a good time?” he asks.
In situations like this, you have an opportunity to prepare for the arrest.
In New York City, most arrests occur unexpectedly, without notice. You have no opportunity to prepare.
There are numerous ways this might happen:
Some crimes occur in the presence of police officers.
For example, when stopping a driver for a traffic infraction, a police officer might observe that the driver is intoxicated. The officer will arrest the driver for DUI committed in the presence of the police officer.
The driver has no opportunity to prepare for the arrest.
Some crimes occur shortly before police arrive at the scene.
For example, neighbors might call 911 and report hearing a violent argument next door. When police arrive, a woman reports that her boyfriend pushed her, causing her to stumble and hit her head on a door frame. Observing a reddened bump on her forehead, police will arrest the boyfriend, who is also in the apartment, for assault.
The boyfriend has no opportunity to prepare for the arrest.
Grand juries sometimes file sealed indictments.
A sealed indictment might result in an arrest warrant, authorizing police to break down the door to a defendant's home and arrest the defendant.
The defendant has no opportunity to prepare for the arrest.
If you're arrested with notice, you'll have an opportunity to hire a lawyer before the arrest.
If you're arrested without notice, you probably won't have an opportunity to hire a lawyer. Someone who cares about you will have to hire a lawyer for you.
Whether you're in police custody or preparing to surrender, the first thing your lawyer should do is inform police that you have a lawyer.
This notification should happen immediately, hopefully before police start interrogating you.
When police become aware that you have a lawyer, they may not interrogate you. All questioning must stop.
Your lawyer's first notification should occur by phone – "I'm John Doe's lawyer. Don't ask Mr. Doe any questions" – followed by written notification sent by fax or email.
When speaking with the arresting officer, your lawyer should try to find out what the charges are.
If you're preparing to surrender, your lawyer should:
You and your lawyer should discuss evidence that might exist in your case.
Certain types of evidence gets destroyed. For example, favorable surveillance video might be deleted automatically after a short period of time. You need to preserve such evidence before that happens.
Your lawyer should immediately subpoena favorable evidence. Don't assume the police or the District Attorney will do this.
However, prior to arrest, when your lawyer doesn't have subpoena power, the lawyer should deliver a "preservation letter" to the owner of favorable evidence, instructing the owner to prevent it from being destroyed.
Hopefully, the judge will release you without bail. However, you should prepare for the worst-case scenario.
Your lawyer should advise you of the possible range of bail that the judge might set at your arraignment. The lawyer should advise you to have a friend or family member bring cash bail, and/or a credit card, to your Criminal Court arraignment.
If the judge sets bail, your friend or family member can post cash bail (or, sometimes, credit card bail) at the courthouse, and you'll be released within half an hour of seeing the judge. If bail isn't posted at the courthouse, you'll be held in custody much longer until someone posts your bail at a New York City jail.
I defend clients who've been arrested, or who are about to be arrested. I've been doing this more than 25 years.
Contact me anytime for a free consultation:
Click here to subscribe to my blog: