Being arrested is many people’s worst nightmare. The thought of going to jail is terrifying and is often accompanied by worry over how a criminal charge can affect a career or reputation.
New Jersey residents who have never been arrested before likely have no idea what to do or say in the situation. It is good to have a firm understanding of your rights and how to act, since what happens during an arrest can sometimes have a significant outcome on an entire case.
Do not run
Although your first instinct upon being arrested may be to run away or start talking in your own defense, do not do either of these things. Stay there and do not try to get away from the police officers. If they have stopped you unlawfully, that could potentially be presented as a defense later, but during the arrest itself, stay there.
Try to stay calm and act rationally. Do not touch any of the police officers and always keep your hands visible. Above all, do not resist the arrest in any way. Again, if it turns out that the arrest was illegal, or you know you are innocent of the charge, this can be proven later in the criminal process. Running or resisting will do nothing but add an additional criminal charge to your list.
Do not speak
Say nothing at all and immediately ask for an attorney. Anything you say, no matter how insignificant sounding, could be used against you. Sometimes people are unsure if they are under arrest. A police officer should state that you are under arrest and read you Miranda rights.
If the police officer does not tell you that you are under arrest, ask them if you may leave. If they say yes, you can leave. You are under no obligation to speak with them.
Don’t give up your phone without a warrant
People often have their phones on them during an arrest. The police are not allowed to search your phone without a warrant. If they try to, ask them if they have one. They likely will not.
Arrests can happen anywhere. You can be arrested in your car, at your home or out in public, but these basic rules remain the same. After you’ve asked for an attorney, a criminal defense attorney can help build a strong defense and protect your legal rights.