Once you are arrested, you are on notice that the government is trying to prove that a crime has been committed by you and they only have a specific amount of time to do it. Treat your arrest and the preparation of your defense as though it is the most important thing in the world. Many people’s live are negatively affected more by how they behaved after being arrested than prior to their arrest.
1) Ask to speak with a lawyer immediately upon being arrested. Do this verbally and do this in writing if you have the opportunity. Law enforcement makes arrests every day, so you are at a disadvantage. Asking for a lawyer lets everybody know that you are invoking your rights, even though you may not know what rights you have.
2) Stay calm and behave as though you are being watched and listened to. Even body language may be interpreted in a manner that may be used against you. The best bet is to stay calm and respectfully ask to speak with an attorney.
3) Once you have some time for yourself, privately make some notes about the events that led to your arrest. Your memory will never be more fresh than it is now. Include every detail that comes to mind.
4) Make a list of people, including names, addresses, and phone numbers of any people who may have information about the case against you.
5) Make an appointment to see your lawyer. If you are represented by the local Public Defender’s Office, quickly call to make an appointment. Show up on time and give your lawyer all he or she needs to prepare your case. If you are hiring an attorney in private practice, make sure that that attorney is experienced in the area of criminal law that you have been a arrested. Once you have hired a lawyer that you are confident in, be professional, and allow your lawyer to help you make fully informed decisions until the end of your case.
The time between your arrest and your first court appearance is the time that the government is deciding whether to formally charge you with a crime. This is a very crucial period. An experienced attorney may be able to help show the government why their best course is to file no charge at all.
If a charge is formally filed against you, the next several weeks or months will be very important. Give each aspect of your case the attention that it deserves. You will spend this time with your attorney examining the government’s evidence. Every case begins with the presumption of innocence and heads toward a final day in court(a trial or a plea). Communication with your lawyer is very important as you prepare your case.
When you meet with your lawyer for the first time, discuss how, and how often the two of you will communicate with each other. Laying the ground rules early in any business relationship is a good idea. This is certainly no exception.
You’ve been arrested. This is serious. Good Luck.
Gene E. Mitchell is a Board Certified Criminal Trial Lawyer practicing law in North Florida. He spent over seven years as a stock