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Last Updated on: 22nd October 2023, 05:20 pm
What to Do if You Are Arrested in Brooklyn – Your Rights and Next Steps
Getting arrested can be a scary and overwhelming experience. But it’s important to stay calm and know your rights. This article will walk you through what to expect if you are arrested in Brooklyn, and provide tips on how to handle the situation.
Before the Arrest
First and foremost, avoid doing anything illegal that could get you arrested! But if you do find yourself in a confrontation with police, here are some tips:
- Stay calm and be polite. Don’t argue or resist, even if you believe you did nothing wrong. That will only make things worse.
- Don’t make sudden movements or reach for anything without asking first. That can be seen as threatening behavior.
- If police want to search you or your belongings, you can politely say you do not consent to a search. But if they say they are going to search anyway, do not physically resist.
- Do not lie or give false information. Be honest and comply with orders. Lying will likely just land you in more trouble.
- Ask if you are free to leave. If so, calmly walk away. If not, you are being detained and should follow orders.
- Do not resist arrest, even if you believe the arrest is unfair. Fighting back will only result in additional charges.
During the Arrest
If you are being arrested:
- Ask why you are being arrested and what the charges are. But don’t argue about it.
- Do not make any statements about the incident leading to your arrest. Anything you say can be used against you.
- If police question you, politely decline to answer and say you want to speak to a lawyer first. Then stop talking.
- If asked, provide your name, address, and other basic info. But don’t volunteer additional information.
- Follow all orders given by the officers, even if you disagree with them. Resisting will make it worse.
- Do not attempt to flee or escape once you are being arrested. That can lead to additional charges.
- If you are injured during the arrest, request medical attention immediately.
- If you witness police misconduct during the arrest, make a mental note of it to report later.
The arresting officers will handcuff you and transport you to the nearest police station for booking. This involves taking your fingerprints and photos. You will also be searched thoroughly.Try to stay calm during this process, even though it can be degrading. Getting angry or resisting will not help.
At the Police Station
Once at the station, you will be held until arraignment. This is when you are formally charged and have the charges read to you by a judge. Arraignments happen within 24 hours of arrest.While waiting:
- You have the right to remain silent. Do not talk about your case with anyone.
- If questioned, politely decline and re-state your right to have an attorney present first.
- You have the right to make a phone call. Call a friend, relative or attorney to inform them of the arrest.
- You do not have to sign any statements or answer questions without a lawyer present. Refuse politely.
- If you don’t have an attorney yet, one will be appointed to you for the arraignment. Do not make any statements until you meet with them.
- Be patient and comply with officer orders. Follow jail rules and don’t cause disturbances.
- Get some rest if you can. Eat if you are provided food. Ask for water if needed.
- Document the names/badge numbers of all officers you interact with. Write down what you remember of the arrest.
- If you have medical needs or medications, inform an officer immediately. Ask them to contact your emergency contacts if needed.
Waiting in a cell can be tedious and scary. But stay calm and remember that this is temporary. The arraignment will happen soon and your attorney can request bail/release.
The arraignment hearing has a few purposes:
- You are formally read the charges against you and notified of your rights.
- The judge decides whether to set bail or release you without bail.
- If released, the conditions of release are set (e.g. having to check in with pretrial services).
- You can enter a plea (guilty, not guilty, no contest). But most people plead not guilty at this stage.
- The next court date is scheduled.
Listen carefully as the charges are read. Confer with your attorney beforehand about entering a plea. Answer the judge’s questions clearly.If you are released:
- You will have to sign paperwork agreeing to show up at future court dates.
- Follow all conditions the judge sets for your release. This can include drug testing, ankle monitor, etc.
- Do not miss any court dates or violate any conditions, or you may have your release revoked.
- Go immediately to the court clerk’s office to pay any bail fees and get upcoming court dates.
- Verify with your attorney the next steps in fighting your charges. Follow their advice closely in the coming days.
Common Mistakes to Avoid
There are some key things you should NOT do if arrested:
- Do not resist arrest or try to escape custody. That will result in additional charges. Follow all orders.
- Do not make any statements about the incident without your lawyer present. Even denying guilt can hurt you.
- Do not agree to answer questions or sign documents without reading them first. Be polite yet firm in declining.
- Do not lie or give false info during booking. That will land you in more legal trouble.
- Do not cause problems while in custody. Follow rules and avoid confrontations.
- Do not discuss your case with other inmates. Assume they will use it against you.
- Do not miss court dates or violate release conditions. That can get bail revoked and lead to re-arrest.
- Do not try to contact victims or witnesses in your case if ordered not to. That can also get bail revoked.
Making any of these mistakes can seriously harm your case. It’s best to comply with police, remain silent, and let your attorney handle everything.
Finding a Lawyer
If you don’t already have a criminal defense lawyer, you’ll need to hire one as soon as possible after being arrested. A lawyer can:
- Advise you on whether to answer questions or accept a plea deal.
- Represent you at arraignment and argue for your release.
- Investigate the circumstances around your arrest.
- File motions to get evidence suppressed or charges dismissed.
- Negotiate with the prosecutor for reduced charges or alternate sentencing.
- Defend you at trial if the charges are not dropped.
Be sure to hire an experienced criminal lawyer, not a general practice attorney. Criminal law is very complex. The outcome of your case likely hinges on your legal representation.Some options for finding a lawyer include:
- Search online for highly-rated criminal defense attorneys in Brooklyn. Look for ones with experience handling your charges.
- If low income, contact the Brooklyn Defenders or Legal Aid Society for possible free representation.
- Ask friends and family for referrals to criminal lawyers they recommend.
- Contact the Brooklyn Bar Association lawyer referral service at (718) 624-0675.
- If bailed out, visit lawyer offices in Brooklyn to interview potential hires in person.
- Hire as soon as possible. The earlier in the process, the better for your defense.
Be wary of lawyers making outrageous claims or guarantees. No one can promise you the charges will be dismissed or that you won’t serve jail time.
Next Steps After Release
If you are released after arraignment, either on your own recognizance or after posting bail, here are some next steps:
- Meet with your attorney as soon as possible to discuss the case. Be honest and forthcoming so they can best defend you.
- Request a copy of the charges, police reports, and any other case documents from your lawyer. Review them closely.
- Follow your release conditions very closely. Missing court or violating conditions could lead to re-arrest and revocation of release.
- If ordered to undergo drug/alcohol testing or monitoring, be sure to comply. Missing tests could violate your release.
- Begin gathering evidence or identifying witnesses that could help your case. Inform your lawyer.
- If employed, notify your employer of the situation. But do not discuss details or admit guilt.
- Avoid actions that could violate orders of protection. Do not contact alleged victims or witnesses without your lawyer’s consent.
- Continue checking in with your lawyer regularly as your case progresses. Be actively involved in your defense.
- Ask your lawyer what plea deals the prosecution may offer and weigh your options carefully.
- Make sure you understand the strengths and weaknesses of your case. That will allow you to make informed choices.
- Be prepared that fighting the charges could take many months, or even years. Stay patient and follow your lawyer’s advice.
- If convicted, cooperate fully with probation officers and court orders. Missing deadlines or requirements could lead to jail time.
Dealing with criminal charges is a lengthy process with high stakes. Having an experienced lawyer guide you through it can make all the difference.
Being arrested can be scary, but knowing your rights is empowering. Stay calm, remain silent without a lawyer, and comply with police directions. At the station, politely refuse to answer questions or sign anything. Hire a criminal defense lawyer immediately and follow their advice closely. If released, obey all court orders precisely. With smart decisions and proper legal help, you can achieve the best possible outcome. Just stay strong!