A Step-By-Step Guide to the Arrest Process

If the government elects to charge you with a crime, one of the first things that is going to happen is that you will probably be arrested. Most of us know the term “arrested.” We have a general understanding that it means being taken to jail by the police. However, most people really do not know how the process works on a step-by-step basis. In fact, unless you’ve actually been arrested before, you probably only know what you’ve seen on TV, which only includes bits and pieces of the arrest process.

Being arrested can be terrifying, but if you know exactly what is going to happen to you, you will be able to handle the process calmly, think clearly, and have the presence of mind to take swift, effective action to protect your rights and give yourself the best chance to succeed in your case.

In this blog, we will outline each step of the arrest process. For more information, or for an aggressive and effective defense of your rights, feel free to contact me.

Step 1

The police will come to either your home, your place of work, or perhaps they will encounter you in the street immediately following a crime. At this time, they will take you into custody. This will entail handcuffing you and placing you in their police vehicle. Keep in mind, if the police want to ask you any questions, they must read you your Miranda rights. As they state, you have the right to remain silent, and you should always invoke that right until you can speak with a lawyer.

One of the major misconceptions that I hear from people repeatedly is that they were not read their Miranda rights when they were arrested, so the case should be dismissed. Nothing could be further from the truth. In point of fact, the only time when police must read the Miranda rights is when the person being arrested is in custody and being questioned about the crime. If you are not in custody, or the police do not want to question you, then there is no legal requirement that they read you your rights.

Step 2

The police will transport you to a police station or to a jail. Once you arrive at the jail or holding facility, you will have to go through processing, better known as “booking.” This process entails taking your fingerprints, taking your photo (also known as the “mug shot”), and gathering all of your pertinent personal information like name, date of birth, address and place of employment. Being arrested and booked into jail often results in a lot of emotion and anger, but do not resist the booking process. None of the information the police are gathering will be used against you in court, and if you react poorly it can only result in putting yourself in a negative situation that could make matters worse.

Finally, you will be placed in a holding cell. If you are given the opportunity for a phone call. You have several options about who to call at that point. If you can reach a family member or trusted friend, call them and ask them to do two things: 1) Call your defense attorney (if you have one) and 2) call a bail bondsman to post bond so you can be released.

Step 3

Next is the process of qualifying for bail. Around 95% of state court cases will qualify for some degree of bail, sometimes even without going before a judge. In other cases, you will have to go before a judge the next day who will explain the charges against you, make sure you have an attorney, and then go through the process of setting bail. For more information on bail determinations in Florida, check out our past blog.

Step 4

Ideally, at this point you will post bail and be released from jail to await your trial. In a very limited number of cases, such as when the charges are punishable by life imprisonment or the defendant is considered a flight risk, bail may be denied. However, if that’s the case then you are entitled to a hearing to determine if there are any conditions of release which will insure that you do not fail to return to court to answer the charges.

The federal arrest process essentially follows the same four steps above, with the only differences being with regard to bail. In federal court, you must always be taken before a judge before you can be released on bail.

There is a way to avoid the entire arrest process. If you know that the police are going to arrest you, or that a warrant has been issued for your arrest, your attorney can arrange for you to surrender, rather than being arrested in front of your family or coworkers. It can be arranged for you to appear at a police station on a designated date and time to surrender yourself to be booked. You will still be “arrested,” but you will be able to control the timing of the event. When a surrender is arranged, usually the amount of bond is also agreed upon, and it can be posted the moment you arrive at the jail. The process unfolds in a much easier fashion.

If you are ever arrested, it is essential that you move quickly to protect your rights and your future. As soon as possible following your arrest, be sure to contact Barry Wax.

Law Offices of Barry M. Wax