Your Rights Upon Criminal Arrest
If you are involved in a criminal arrest, it is essential that you know your rights at that moment, especially before you have the opportunity to have your criminal defense attorney present.
What are your legal rights in a criminal arrest?
Right to Remain Silent
First and foremost, you have the right to remain silent, i.e., to refuse to answer police questions. You should always ask to speak to an attorney before offering any information to police as — just as you have heard on television countless times — anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.
Accordingly, in court you also have the 5th amendment right against self-incrimination, so you can refuse to answer any questions whose answers may implicate you in a crime.
Right to Refuse Search Request
Another right at the time of arrest or even investigation is the right to refuse a police search request unless the police have a warrant. That is, you can refuse the police access to any and all of the following if they do not have a warrant to search:
- Your person
- House, apartment, or other dwelling
- Car or other vehicle
- Purse, bag, luggage, etc.
- Any other possessions
Even if you think you have nothing to hide, it is often better to withhold consent and make the police get a warrant for the search; remember they are looking for evidence against you, so you have the right to not offer them any help in that quest.
Right to Representation
You also have a right to an attorney, and your communications with that attorney are privileged, i.e., they cannot be disclosed to a third party; in order to retain that privilege, however, make sure no one else is present in the room when you are speaking with your attorney on confidential issues. In that instance, the privilege may be broken, and your words (and possibly admissions) may be used against you in court.