If I’m Arrested, How Soon Should I Act?

A person can be arrested if they have committed a crime, are about to commit a crime, or if the police have probable cause that person committed the crime. Whatever the case, law enforcement cannot hold someone in custody for too long without filing charges. However, if you have been arrested, don’t wait for the police to file charges or assign you a lawyer. Acting as soon as possible and contacting a criminal defense attorney will help you build a strong defense against criminal charges.

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When to Contact an Attorney?

Generally, when a person gets arrested for committing a crime and remains in custody, their first court hearing takes place within 48 hours of arrest, as law enforcement cannot hold any suspect indefinitely.

Arraignment, typically the first court hearing for a criminal case, is the formal legal process in which the defendant is made aware of the charges filed against them and their constitutional rights as a defendant. This is an excellent time to have an attorney on your side, so they get all the time they need to build your legal defense against the charges.

The purpose of an arraignment is to prevent the suspect from being confined by law enforcement agencies without any judicial oversight. Some states have arraignment as the initial hearing after the arrest, while others can have both an initial court hearing after the arrest and a separate arraignment process.

In an arraignment, the defendant can either plead guilty or not guilty. For instance, if a defendant pleads not guilty, the judge can get the opinion of the District Attorney for releasing them on their own recognizance (ROR’d) or having a bail set for them. The arraignment process can pass quickly and be confusing, so you can always ask your defense attorney for guidance.

The defendant can also hire a defense attorney for legal representation in the pretrial or preliminary hearings after the arraignment. However, it is best not to use up valuable time as pretrial and preliminary hearings can be delayed by weeks or months, depending on the case.

What To Do During and After Being Arrested?

  • Do not say anything to the authorities that could undermine your case. The police officer will read your Miranda Rights to remind you that it is your constitutional right not to incriminate yourself by saying anything that can be used against you in court.
  • Do not resist arrest, as that could lead to additional charges.
  • Do not argue with the police.
  • Do pay attention to your interactions with the police. If they violate your constitutional rights or use excessive force, you can use that in court to strengthen your case.
  • The court can assign an attorney if you do not hire an attorney for yourself. The ideal thing to do in that situation is not to wait and settle for the court-appointed lawyer but instead get in touch with an experienced attorney.

If you want things to turn out in your favor, you should hire an expert defense attorney as early in your case as possible. It increases your chances of getting acquitted or getting a reduced sentence. It will help you stay focused and not panic during the criminal defense proceedings, which can be stressful.

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