DiLorenzo & Rush | Counselors of Law
Stepping Up & Standing Out

What are my rights during an arrest?

On Behalf of | Mar 18, 2024 | Criminal Defense

Being arrested in New Jersey can be a terrifying experience, especially if it is your first time or you are unsure of what you did wrong. You may feel frighted or overwhelmed, which is why it is important to know your rights throughout the entire arrest process.

Police officers must have probable cause to arrest you. This means they have reason to believe that a crime has been committed or is about to be committed.

If you believe they do not have probable cause, but they arrest you anyway, it is best to not fight that during the arrest. The only likely outcome is that you will receive an additional charge, such as resisting arrest or disorderly conduct.

Lack of probable cause is a valid reason to have everything after the arrest removed from evidence. With no evidence, a criminal charge is usually dismissed. However, you should wait until you can discuss your situation privately with an attorney to determine if lack of probable cause is a valid defense.

No excessive force

You have rights during the arrest itself. Police officers are allowed to use reasonable force to arrest you, but they cannot use excessive force. You should follow their instructions.

If you do not understand what they are telling you to do, stay still and ask them to please repeat the instructions. Do not yell or act aggressively when speaking to the officers.

Once you are arrested, you will be read Miranda warnings. You might be familiar with these already. This is when the police officers tell you the rights you have under the law.

You must be provided with these Miranda warnings before the officers can ask you any questions or interrogate you. If the officers do not read you these warnings, anything you say generally cannot be used as evidence.

Remaining silent

One of the most important rights is your right to remain silent. Although the officers can interrogate you after they read you Miranda warnings, you are not required to say anything. In fact, you should not say anything.

This is because any statements you make can be used against you. Because an arrest is such a stressful experience, many times people start talking out of nervousness, or hope that by talking they can explain themselves and the police officers will let them go.

The opposite is often true. Almost any statement can be interpreted in a way that makes you look guilty, such as a simple apology.

Although it will likely be difficult, stay silent. If the officers keep questioning you, ask for an attorney. This is another right you have.

Search and seizure

Once they have probable cause, police officers may search your or your immediate surroundings for evidence related to the crime they believe you committed.

You should allow them to search, but if you believe there was no probable cause, remember to bring that up as a possible defense. Any evidence they find could be inadmissible if there was no probable cause.

After the arrest, you will be taken to the police station for booking. You will have your photograph and fingerprints taken and learn if you are eligible for bail.

It is vital to know your rights before, during and after an arrest. Knowledge of your rights can make a huge difference in the outcome of your case.