Getting arrested is always a scary and intimidating thing. But knowing what to do can ease some of the anxiety and help you take control of the situation. If you find yourself in a compromising situation where a police officer places you under arrest, a tactful response is necessary.

5 Things to Do When You’re Arrested

There were an estimated 7.63 million arrests in the United States last year. And while many offenders had multiple arrests, this comes out to roughly 2 percent of the American population. If you look at the last 20 years, there have been more than 250 million cumulative arrests

In other words, if you’re arrested, you aren’t alone. You do, however, need a plan for what to do. Here are some recommendations:

  • Know What Constitutes an Arrest

By definition, someone is arrested when they are taken into custody by a police officer. This doesn’t necessarily mean the individual is taken to jail. A person is considered arrested whenever they are not permitted to leave. This may include being handcuffed and placed in a police car.

A police officer is only allowed to arrest an individual if they see the person commit a crime; have probable cause to believe the person committed a crime; and/or a judge or magistrate issues an arrest warrant for that individual (supported by probable cause). 

  • Avoid Resisting Arrest

Whatever you do, avoid resisting arrest. Even in a situation where you don’t believe an arrest is lawful and/or you know you didn’t do anything wrong, you do not have a right to resist arrest. Using physical force to resist or attack an officer could lead to additional charges (even if the original issue becomes a non-factor). As tough as it can be, you should peaceably go into custody and trust that the situation can be fought in court, rather than on the streets.

  • Know (and Use) Your Rights

When arrested, the officer is required to read you your Miranda Rights. One of them is the right to remain silent. Another is the right to hire an attorney. Use both of them!

After hearing your rights, look the officer in the eye and repeat these simple words: “I wish to remain silent and I would like to speak with an attorney.” Legally, the officer may not ask you any questions after that. (It’s okay to give them your name, address, date of birth, etc. However, you shouldn’t provide any more information than that.)

Police officers are trained in how to squeeze incriminating information out of suspects. They often mask questions with small talk or other clever phrases. Stay silent and wait to speak with an attorney.

  • Contact an Attorney

While your local court will appoint a free defense attorney if you don’t have one, we highly recommend hiring your own. More specifically, we suggest hiring an experienced criminal defense lawyer who has a track record for getting cases like yours dropped. A good attorney is local to the area, knows the prosecutors and district attorneys, and isn’t afraid to ruffle feathers in order to prove your innocence. 

  • Heed Your Lawyer’s Advice

From the moment you hire an attorney, your job is pretty simple: Do what they tell you to do. If your attorney tells you to be quiet, be quiet. If he tells you to get off social media, get off social media. If he asks you to record your version of events and gather evidence, do just that.

Your lawyer understands the nuances of how to handle legal issues like yours. And while you might think you know what’s best, remember that this is his full-time job. You did your due diligence when hiring a lawyer – now trust the process!

Putting it All Together

Obviously, nobody ever wants to be arrested. But life happens, mistakes are made, and sometimes you end up in a compromising situation. And whether you actually did anything wrong or not, you must know how to respond. 

Use the information in this article to proactively deal with these situations and avoid making the problem worse. But, above all else, remember to consult with an attorney for advice that’s specific to your situation and circumstances.