But what exactly happens when you get arrested?
The most important thing with a police encounter is to determine if you are actually being arrested or not.
If you’ve had any experiences with the police,
you’ve likely noticed that they’re super polite
most of the time, asking you nicely, “Would
you mind standing over here please?”, or “Mind if I take a look in your vehicle?”.
Well, turns out that the cops aren’t just giving you the professional courtesy they should be giving you, because what they’re actually doing is playing mind games with you.
See, without probable cause, a police officer
can’t legally search your vehicle, home, or person, and if a police officer ever restricts
your freedom of mobility, they must notify you that you’ve been placed under arrest.
Hence the polite questions.
Typically police officers will use these seemingly polite questions to get you to cooperate and give them permission to find evidence to use against you, or to detain you, without having a legal basis to do so.
For example, if an officer asks you to “please
stand over here”, they actually have no legal power to stop you from completely ignoring
that order unless they inform you that you’re
being placed under arrest or being detained.
In order to detain or arrest you, a police officer must have probable cause of criminal misbehavior, though just to control a situation
or an individual, they may instead ask you
politely to do as they say while having no
legal right to actually restrict your freedom.
Now ignoring such a request could itself be
grounds for a legal detainment, like if for
instance you not staying put is placing others
But if you ever get put in cuffs and are not
informed that you’re being detained or arrested, the police officer just violated your civil liberties and could be open to one hell of
But you’ve been caught red-handed, there’s
no doubt you’re guilty, and you’re doing the
smart thing and not adding further charges
by resisting arrest.
What happens now?
First, unless the situation is extremely dangerous, a police officer must read you your Miranda rights the moment you’re arrested or shortly thereafter.
Miranda rights come from a landmark Supreme Court ruling that determined criminals still have certain rights they must be aware of during an arrest.
Miranda rights are so important, that most
police officers read them directly from a cheat sheet rather than risk memorizing them and forgetting a key right- that could be grounds for a very expensive lawsuit.
Your first right is the right to remain silent, you don’t have to answer any questions.
You’ll be informed that anything you say during the arrest process can be later used against you in court, so probably best to keep your mouth shut.
Next, you’ll be informed of your right to speak to an attorney before speaking to a police investigator, and to have one present during any questioning done by police.
This right is specially important given the
string of abuses by police in the past during
suspect interrogations where they used the
naivety or fear of a suspect to get criminal
confessions even if they were innocent or
not completely guilty of what they were accused of.
You’ll be reminded that if you can’t afford an attorney, you’ll have one appointed to you by the state.
Lastly, you’ll be informed that if you cooperate
and answer questions right now without an attorney present, you have the right to stop
answering questions until you have a chance
to speak with an attorney.
So, is it worth it to talk to the cops without an attorney?
Well, typically no.
But, your cooperation could lead to the prosecution recommending some amount of leniency when it comes time for sentencing.
Next, once you’ve been placed in cuffs you’ll
typically be frisked.
This takes the form of a thorough pat-down
of your outer layer of clothing, meant to check for weapons that can be easily accessed.
Now that you’ve been officially arrested though, police can search your person for contraband or criminal items, meaning they can empty your pockets and anything found will only add to your problems.
Luckily for you, you’ve been arrested in your
birthday suit, so the only pocket to search is your prison pocket.
Any personal property you’re currently carrying or have on your person at the time of arrest will be logged into an inventory, which will include a detailed count of the currency you were currently carrying.
You’ll be asked to sign this inventory although
you should only do so if the inventory accurately reflects what you had on you when you were arrested.
These items or currency will typically be made available to a family member or kept in storage for you until your government-funded vacation to state prison is officially over.
Next, you’ll take a ride in the back of a police car to the nearest booking facility, where you’ll be officially booked and logged into the US criminal database.
You’ll be asked to provide basic information on yourself such as address, social security number, birthdate, etc., and you’ll be photographed and fingerprinted.
At this point, you don’t have the right to refuse being photographed or fingerprinted, and if you refuse to cooperate and give a legal name you could just be adding more trouble for yourself.
If you refuse to identify yourself, you could end up adding days or weeks to your pre-trial jail stay until you can be identified.
Now that you’ve been booked, you’ll be sent to temporary housing at a jail facility while the prosecutor’s office determines what charges
they’ll be filing against you.
Thanks to your constitutional right to a speedy
trial, the prosecution has up to 72 hours to file charges, something you’ll no doubt be grateful for considering that in many countries around the world there’s no limit to how long you can be held without being charged.
Next, you’ll have your day in court- or at least your first day in court.
You’ll proceed to your arraignment where you’ll face the charges against you, and the judge will ask if you plead guilty or not guilty.
You can also select a third option- no contest-
in which you indicate that you don’t contest the facts of the case, and typically meant to avoid an actual trial.
This can be beneficial for people facing minor
criminal charges, as it may limit their exposure to more serious charges in a full-blown trial.
Unless you plead no contest, you’ll then be
moving on to trial, during which you’ll get to argue your case via your lawyer or public
defender, while the prosecution does its best
to argue against you.
The bail system though will allow you to skip
having to stay in jail during your trial process, if your criminal infractions are not severe and the judge has determined you aren’t a flight risk.
And that’s it, luckily for you public nudity is a relatively minor charge and you can- and should- just plead no contest and take the community service.
I guess you already aware that jails are so terrifying a place to be, that you want to avoid them as best you can.
Have Police arrested you before?
Tell us in the comments section
Also be sure to check out Illegal Things That You Do Everyday