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What to Do If You Were Arrested But Not Charged Yet in Arizona

Getting arrested can be scary and confusing, especially if you don’t understand why it happened or what happens next. If you were recently arrested in Arizona but no formal charges have been filed yet, you probably have a lot of questions about your rights and what actions you should take. This article provides an overview of what to do if you find yourself in this situation, with advice from Arizona criminal defense lawyers.

The Arrest Process and Your Rights

In Arizona, police only need probable cause to make an arrest. That’s a relatively low legal standard meaning they need some objective basis to believe you may have committed a crime, but they don’t need hard evidence yet. Just because you were arrested does not necessarily mean you will be charged with anything.

Once arrested, the police can legally detain you for up to 24 hours before they have to charge you, release you, or bring you before a magistrate for a probable cause determination hearing. During this time, you have the right to remain silent and refuse to answer questions without a lawyer present. Anything you say can potentially be used against you later.

Arizona law also requires police to allow you to make a reasonable number of completed phone calls to contact a lawyer, family, friends, etc. (though they can listen in). You also have the right to be taken before a magistrate or judge for an initial appearance within 24 hours.

Getting Out of Jail After an Arrest

In many cases, people are released shortly after being arrested if the police do not have enough evidence yet to file charges. However, you may need to post bail or bond to be released while the investigation continues.

An experienced criminal defense lawyer can often negotiate with prosecutors for lower or no bail, or get you released on your own recognizance. If you cannot afford bail, your lawyer may also be able to get a bail hearing and argue for lower bail terms. Hiring legal counsel quickly is important for these negotiations.

In Arizona, you also have the right to a preliminary hearing within 10 days of your initial appearance if you are still in custody. This requires prosecutors to show they have probable cause to continue holding you. With an aggressive lawyer challenging the evidence, charges are sometimes dropped at this stage if probable cause is lacking.

Next Steps If You Were Released After an Arizona Arrest

Even if released and no charges have been filed yet, do NOT assume the case is closed. The police may still be investigating and prosecutors may file charges later, even months down the road. Some things you should do:

  • Consult a criminal defense lawyer – Getting legal advice early in the process is highly recommended so they can start working on your defense strategy right away. This is especially important if you believe you may be charged later.
  • Avoid talking about your case with anyone other than your lawyer. Something you say may be used against you or prompt further investigation.
  • Don’t violate conditions of your release if the court imposed any. This could lead to new charges or bail revocation.
  • Get your case records by filing public records requests. Your lawyer can assist with obtaining police reports, warrant information, etc. Review records for any inaccuracies.
  • Preserve exonerating evidence if you have any – such as receipts, photos, videos, etc. showing you could not have committed the alleged crimes.

If Formal Charges Are Filed Later

If charges do end up getting filed later on, having a lawyer already up to speed on your case is extremely beneficial. They can immediately file motions to get invalid or questionable charges dismissed before your case progresses further.

Possible defenses if formal charges are filed include:

  • Illegal arrest – If police lacked probable cause, your lawyer can argue the case should be dismissed due to an unlawful arrest.
  • Miranda rights violations – If police continued questioning you after you invoked your right to silence, your statements may be suppressed.
  • Insufficient evidence – Prosecutors have to prove guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt”. If the evidence is weak, charges may still be dismissed.

Don’t panic and think your life is over if you do end up facing charges down the road. An experienced Arizona criminal lawyer can thoroughly analyze the prosecution’s case and identify ways to challenge the charges against you in pursuit of a dismissal or acquittal.

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